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Westside Toastmasters is located in Los Angeles and Santa Monica, California

CHAPTER 35

Get in Step with the Other Person

What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.

  -- ORISON SWETT MARDEN

Timing is everything in getting through to people, especially in the area of charm. As it says in Ecclesiastes, "There is a time for every purpose under heaven." Your job is to determine when it is. Have you ever tried to talk with others only to find yourself out of step with their mood? You're cool and mellow; they're agitated and uptight. You're feeling life's a ball; they're down in the dumps. The two of you are worlds apart and any attempt to make a connection fails. You may try to be supportive and reassuring, but nothing seems to work. You just can't connect. Why is that? It could be because, at that moment, the two of you have different rhythms and are moving at different speeds, like automobile gears grinding.

It is the same with people. You have to find a way to mesh gears, to make sure that you and the other person are in sync, so that no matter how different you are, you can create rapport.

Practice Mirroring and Matching

Long before the advent of neurolinguistic programming (NLP), professionals used an acting exercise called "mirroring and matching" to learn what it was like to be a leader or follower. The exercise trained actors to work in harmony with each other by synchronizing their movements or behaviors. For example, one person would make up a tune and hum it, and the other would try to hum the same tune seemingly at the identical time. Two people would, with each other's cooperation, become a mirror image of each other.

Most of us have the latent ability to adapt to different types of people but, for all kinds of reasons, we don't. Can you imagine what it would be like if you could only relate to people exactly like you? How narrow your world would become. It's the reason many people become so inflexible and judgmental. If you don't do it the way I do it, if you don't see the world exactly as I see it, then you're wrong, unworthy, irrelevant.

People with charm avoid being inflexible and judgmental. They enjoy seeing the world through others' eyes as well as their own. That is one of the most fundamental secrets of charm -- being able to see the world through the other person's eyes.

Your Tools for Charming Others

The next time you are in a conversation, try this exercise. First, consciously mirror and match the other person or people with whom you are conversing by listening to their speech and watching their body language. If they speak rapidly, you match them. If they speak fairly slowly, you do the same. If they gesture a great deal, so should you. If they are restrained in their gestures, you be the same.

Second, whatever seems to be their topic of the day, try to see it from their point of view. Nod, smile, agree, and offer reassurances. The idea is to get them to say in their minds, "I am very comfortable with this person. We have so much in common. We are very similar." We all tend to like and feel at ease with people who seem in tune and in harmony with us. We find them charming.

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