Boost Your Persuasion with Mirrors

July 25, 2007

For decades, sales trainers have taught professionals to establish rapport with customers by subtly mirroring or matching their customer’s non-verbal behavior.  For example, if the customer leans back in her chair with arms crossed, an effective salesperson will lean back in her own chair.  Then, to subtly approximate the gesture of crossing, she will cross her hands on her lap.

Research has consistently shown that persuasion technique of mirroring works.  People are more likely to respond favorably to those who mirror their own non-verbal patterns than to those who don’t.  The technique works just as effectively when selling your ideas and your credibility as when you are selling products or services.To take the technique of mirroring one step further, try to match your receiver’s vocal pitch and pace. 

Kevin Hogan, author of The Science of Influence, notes that the rate at which a person speaks reflects the way that person processes information:

If people tend to think in pictures (movies), they tend to speak very quickly.  People who tend to speak very slowly process information through their feelings and emotions.  In between are people we call the radio announcers who speak with more rich and resonant voices and normally think in words. 

No matter what your persuasion situation, you can increase rapport by matching the rate and pitch of your recipient’s speech.  Mirroring in this way can increase the recipient’s understanding, reduce potential boredom, and/or increase the feeling of being “in sync” with you.  That feeling of “in sync,” the essence of rapport and persuasion, will make your recipient unconsciously inclined to support your proposal, recommendation, or sales proposition. 

Give the mirroring technique a try.  It’s simple and it’s a persuasion technique that works!


Is President Bush Confused about Credibility?

July 17, 2007

An online posting by William Saletan encourages us to think about the definition of credibility.  We all want to be considered credible, but do we really know what this word means?  And is the definition of credibility really worth thinking about?  The answer is “Yes–if we want to be successful.”

It’s tempting to think that the definition of credibility is an ivory-tower question when we have practical work to accomplish.  In actuality, high perceived credibility is positively correlated to success in every sphere of life.  If you can’t define credibility or identify its elements, you can’t take advantage of opportunities to boost your credibility and your success. 

Saletan maintains that George W. Bush has a misguided, and even a dangerous, understanding of credibility.  Saletan begins with a statement by the president at an April 2007 press conference.  Bush said:

One thing is for certain, though, about me, and the world has learned this: When I say something, I mean it. And the credibility of the United States is incredibly important for keeping world peace and freedom.

Here’s a portion of Saletan’s commentary:

To Bush, credibility means that you keep saying today what you said yesterday, and that you do today what you promised yesterday. “A free Iraq will confirm to a watching world that America’s word, once given, can be relied upon,” he argued Tuesday night. When the situation is clear and requires pure courage, this steadfastness is Bush’s most useful trait. But when the situation is unclear, Bush’s notion of credibility turns out to be dangerously unhinged. . . .   No correspondence to reality is required. Bush can say today what he said yesterday, and do today what he promised yesterday, even if nothing he believes about the rest of the world is true.

Bush’s comment implies that we should define credibility largely as consistency, as keeping our word.  Saletan argues that consistency can be useless or even dangerous, if we start with the wrong premise and then stick to it.

So, is President Bush confused about the definition of credibility? 

Credibility does involve consistency, but other elements of credibility are important as well.  People assign us a level of credibility based on the interplay of the following elements:  integrity, competence, sound judgment, relational sensitivity, and likeability.  Once you know the elements of credibility and can see your strengths and weaknesses, you can take positive steps to boost your credibility in the eyes of others.

For a detailed explanation and action steps to boost your credibility, go to    

(The link to Saletan’s post is

Your Breath Can Guide Your Business Writing!

July 3, 2007

I ran across the following quote in my files today.  It’s an important reminder–short, sweet and well-spoken.  Follow this advice for clear and concise business writing:   Keep sentences and paragraphs short.  Give sentences the “breath test” by reading them aloud.  If you run out of breath before you get to the end of the sentence, it’s too long and should be broken into two or more sentences.

Robert W. Bly, The Online Copywriter’s Handbook