Communication Techniques are Useful But Should be Invisible
Communication Technique: Establish Eye Contact While Listening
I wondered what was wrong with my eye. Why, when I was talking, was he staring at only one eye? Was my makeup smeared? Are my eyes red?
He was listening very intently. Too intently. In fact, it made me uncomfortable. And what’s with the eye thing? Finally, I asked him. He told me that he had read a book on listening and the book had explained how to listen well. One technique was to make eye contact, but the book went on to suggest that if you feel uncomfortable making full eye contact, just look at one eye.
But alas, instead of feeling heard, I just felt self-conscious.
The Problem with Communication Techniques
And such is the issue with techniques.
All communication techniques are supposed to be supporting players.
I think of communication techniques like the bones in your body: They lend support but are not supposed to be seen or obvious. If the technique is obvious, you are doing it wrong.
Communication Technique: Use Mirroring to Create Rapport
Mirroring is a very useful technique to be in “sync” with someone. As a communication technique, when you “mirror” someone you simply mirror their nonverbal communication.
This technique came about when researchers observed that people who are naturally in sync mirror each other’s body language. If one shifts in her seat, so does the other person. So, researchers asked, “Can you create “sync” by mirroring? And yes, indeed, they found you absolutely can.
But, like all techniques, this one technique of “mirroring” can backfire. Instead of the person feeling heard, the person can feel mocked. If you use this communication technique and its obvious to the other person, it could create offense.
Make eye contact when listening to someone but do so with gentle intensity. (And not just one eye.) Smile.
Mirror someone to create rapport, but don’t be obvious about it.
Techniques are aids, “bones” to hold the structure of communication. Use them correctly. And invisibly.