Talk Nerdy To Me’s @StaffWriter:
Have you ever noticed someone copying your body language? You may have wondered what that means. Well, it could mean lots of things, depending on the context, their role in your life, their gender, and their motivation.
6 Common Reasons Someone Copies Your Body Language
When someone mimics your body language, they might do it consciously or unconsciously. This is called “mirroring” in many circles.
Here are the top five reasons someone usually copies your body language.
1) They Feel Close to You
If someone copies the way you stand, that could indicate they feel close and connected to you. They’re seeking a deeper connection with you and trying to get in sync with your feelings and emotions by using “mirroring” to mimic your body language.
2) They Want To Establish Rapport
Rapport is when people become closer and feel more connected after talking to each other. Someone may begin mirroring the other’s body language when trying to establish rapport. Even though many think of this as a flirting signal, that isn’t always the case—it might just be about establishing harmony between people who are getting comfortable with one another.
3) They Like and Admire You
If someone copies your body language, they could like you and admire you. Close friends, family, and romantic partners often mirror each other without knowing it.
Have you ever “fallen into cadence” with someone when walking?
You start to swing your legs in the same rhythm, even breath in the same patterns, as the other person.
4) They Are Trying To Manipulate You
People who understand mirroring psychology can weaponize it against you. For example, a salesperson or politician might mirror your body language in an attempt to win your trust.
A boss or employee might mirror your gestures to get you to do something—like letting them leave early.
If you notice someone copying you, it might be a sign they are trying to manipulate you in some way.
5) They Are Trying To Impress You
Mirroring is often used as attention-seeking behavior, especially when someone isn’t getting enough of your affection or attention. For example, a child might copy their parent’s body language in an attempt to win favor or get attention from them.
Another example is when someone copies your body language at a networking event—they may be trying to give off the impression that you are close friends, or they are similar to you in some way.
6) They See You as a Leader
People unconsciously model people they view as leaders. Even if you are not their “official” leader in any capacity, they might look up to you.
It also happens in romantic relationships. When one partner is more dominant or “alpha” the other partner might mirror them to show their admiration for that person.
Factors That Change the Meaning of Mirroring Body Language
There are multiple factors you need to consider before jumping to conclusions about someone’s motivations based on their body language.
- Their age
- Their status
- Their gender
- Their relationship with you
- How long they’ve been copying your behavior
- Their motive
- What’s going on around you and/or them
Take a look at each factor and how it can impact the meaning of their body language:
Someone who is much older than you could mirror your body language to show affection towards you, establish rapport with you, or even manipulate you.
But if someone much younger than you copies your gestures, they could be naturally emulating you because they admire you, want to impress you, or see you as a leader.
If someone is more powerful than you, they might copy your body language to assert their dominance and control over the situation.
For example: Someone in a professor-student relationship might copy the other professor’s body language to show their respect for them.
Men and women tend to mirror people they like and find attractive. It can be a way of flirting with someone.
If he or she is looking at you longingly and copies your gestures, it could be a sign of attraction.
It doesn’t need to be a romantic interest, though. Maybe he already has female friends or sees himself as similar to you.
Their Relationship with You
The meaning of someone’s body language changes based on how well they know you.
It can change even within a single conversation, as a relationship progresses. So don’t assume the exact same behavior means the exact same thing each time it happens (even during a multi-hour interaction with someone).
How Long Have They Been Mirroring You?
The time horizon also matters.
Someone who has been copying your gestures for just a few minutes may have unrelated intentions to someone who has been emulating you all day long.
For example: A stranger at a networking event might be trying to copy your gestures to win you over and get an invitation for coffee, but that person from your class who has been mirroring you all semester is probably trying to be like you or win your affection.
Their Hidden Agenda
Sometimes the person copying you may have an ulterior motive, so it’s important to consider what might be going on in their head before making assumptions.
For example: If someone at work copies your body language during a meeting, it could be because they are impressed with you and like you—or it could be because they want credit for your idea (and claim association).
When interpreting body language, it’s always a good idea to keep the context in mind.
Are you in an argument with someone? Are you talking about something serious? Is everyone else around you doing it, too?
It all matters.
If the other person is younger than you, sees themselves as equal or lower than your rank, and they’ve been mirroring you for a long time, then the meaning of their behavior probably has more to do with establishing rapport and flirting.
However, if the person is older than you (and perhaps higher up on the corporate totem pole), it could be dominance play.
Copying Your Body Language Works Both Ways
A lot of mirroring is unintentional, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t tricks to becoming better at emulating other people.
Intentional mirroring can form rapport between two people.
Copying another person’s body language can also make another person more invested in you by putting them at ease (but don’t go overboard).
The key is to not be too obvious, start with small gestures, go slow, and focus on authentic connection.