You Can See the Light

By Judi Friedman August 1, 2013

Judi Friedman

In a past life, I used to tell stories all the time. Stories served me well. They helped me sell a lot of technology to technologists. I couldn’t talk the tech talk, but I could tell some great stories about the stuff, or how other people used it. I always thought my stories helped them see me as a real person, which made it easier for them to buy from me.

Part of what helped me tell good stories, which got me what I wanted, is that I got really good at mirroring people. Mirroring is when one person copies the physical posture of another to make them feel more comfortable and more open. To be clear, mirroring isn’t mimicking. It’s done subtly, almost subconsciously. It’s done to establish empathy, and most certainly not to mock. Mirroring can be really powerful at getting people to like you and that makes it much easier for people to listen. Of course, your stories still have to follow the unassailable rules of word of mouth marketing: they have to be interesting, relevant, and authentic. No amount of mirroring will work to overcome a boring or irrelevant story.


Once I get folks comfortable by mirroring their physical presence, I pay really close attention to their reactions as I talk. I watch how their emotions play on their face. Some people are good at keeping their emotions in check (wearing a poker face), but most are not. So if you watch carefully, you can get a pretty good read on what people are thinking.

When your story works, you can actually see it. You can see it on someone’s face and in his or her physical presence. Think about it. You’re sharing a story. You know you’ve grabbed their interest because they lean in, or they might cock their head in your direction. In any case, all of their attention is focused on you and the story you’re telling. I believe you can actually see their eyes brighten. As a storyteller, you know they aren’t listening to anyone else but you.

You probably also know when the story you’re telling isn’t working. You’ve lost them when what is behind you becomes more interesting than what you’re saying. Eyes start to wander, faces go blank, and bodies get restless. People will be polite, but they won’t be paying attention.

Mirroring and really paying attention to a person’s face, can tell you a lot about how effective your story is. In the word of mouth marketing realm, this is invaluable intelligence. Train your field-marketing representatives in both of these techniques and I’m betting you’ll be able to hook a lot more influencers.

So, here’s your takeaway:

  1. Mirroring helps field operatives build relationship and trust with their audience, which makes them more receptive to your story.
  2. Looking for emotion on your listeners face will give you clues on how your story is being received and will give you insight on how to modify the story if you need to.

This was originally posted to WOMMA’s All Things WOMM blog.

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