I was in the supermarket yesterday and wanted to buy some blue cheese, however there was none displayed in the chillers.  I initially asked a woman to help me and she advised “if it’s not out then it was out of stock”.

So I picked out another person to ask but this time I watched them for a moment and observed their behavior.  When someone went past he knew he immediately acknowledge them by nodding his head upwards, whilst frowning and acknowledging them by using the word pal and mate. His tone was quite low and masculine, and his body language was quite assertive with his shoulders back and his chin upwards and pointing.

So I changed my posture to match his, I deepened my tone and used words he was familiar with.  When I went over I greeted the young guy buy saying “Hiya pal, frowning at the same time and using the same nodding technique as him, I even altered my smile to reflect a contemplating looking which he demonstrated.

My shoulder were back like his, and as I witnessed previously he rubbed the back of his head when in conversation.  This guy was quite muscular, so I used my shoulders and took a deep breath to fill my lungs to emulate a similar frame and posture.

So in a similar voice and stance and using the same level of vocabulary whilst I rubbed my neck ever so slightly I asked was  “ Hiya pal do you have any cheese in stock”  in which he replied “ if it’s not out then there is probably none in stock pal”.

I then replied whilst rubbing my neck “could you do me a favor pal, would you see if there is any in the back”. This time I was looking him straight in the eyes as I began to emulate his own movements and expressions.  After pacing I then began to lead, I then immediately said “I used to work here as a teenager and know how busy it can get, can you do me a massive favour and just check in the back”, I patted him on the shoulder and he said “Yeah no worries pal”.

He came back and patted me on my shoulder and said “here you go chief”, in which I then replied “nice on chief”.  He said “if you’re ever in here and need anything come look for me and I will sort you out”.

Was it successful?

Emulating someone’s phrasing can really make someone feel that you are on the same wave length as them. Using a combination of matching and mirroring techniques can really help support the desired outcome. In this example I used a combination of matching and mirroring, and when ready began to lead.  The desired outcome was I got my item and the individual even emulated my technique of patting as he felt comfortable enough to mirror me actions.

How did I know that I was successful?

I got what I asked for.  When I asked the 1st lady she was unwilling to help, there was no eye contact or engagement or rapport demonstrated at that time.

When I paced and lead did they follow?

When I paced their responses emulated their worlds, my responses in vocabulary were as was the bodily behavior i was displaying.  On return from brining my item back he rubbed his neck as I had done, and he even emulated my technique of patting me on the shoulder. When I said thanks I winked and said cheers and he emulated me by winked back.


I decided to first try rapport building through matching and mirroring during a meeting. I subtly began copying the actions of my colleague who was sat opposite me, even down to holding my breath as she spoke. After 10 to 15 minutes she began to mirror my actions which confirmed that we had established a rapport.  I repeated the same process with a colleague sitting next to me. Within a few minutes she was matching my movements by holding her pen, folding her arms and leaning back in her chair at the same time as I was, even though she could only see me peripherally.

I can see how important consciously using unconscious movements can be. In future I will use them at work and socially, combined with matching key words and content chunks, to maximise communication.

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