Sherlock Holmes is known to not only see the things happening around him but to really perceive them. Mimic resonance does work very similar. Being a powerful leadership tool just as such, it opens an even bigger power in matters of interculturalism. In this post we collected all the Whys and Hows for you .
The art of mimic resonance
Following Dirk. W. Eilert mimic resonance means to recognize mimic signals, to interpret them correctly and to deal with them appropriately.
To have an idea about your own ability to read facial expressions we prepared a – rather simple – self-test for you. How many of the following emotions do you recognize? A little tip: It’s not about knowing the correct term but about intuitively interpreting the shown emotions.
So? How many did you recognize?
Of course the mimic expressions in this video are much longer shown than we see them in reality. Talking with someone, you can’t see his/her micro expressions for more than 40-500msec. These micro expressions are initiated directly from the emotional center of our brains and therefore occur unintentionally. They are very hard to imitate and therefore very meaningful, but also very short. The key to recognizing them anyway is knowing the signs.
To know and interpret the signs
So let’s talk a bit about the signs you have to know to be able to interpret the facial expressions of others:
Picture rights: Eilert Akademie
Paul Ekman defined the seven basic emotions fear, contempt, sadness, happiness, surprise, anger and disgust. In mimic resonance trainings you can learn how these basic emotions and many other facial action units look like. Afterwards you are able to recognize them in milliseconds and gain insights in the emotions of your counterparts.
Mimic resonance as an intercultural competence
Mimic resonance already is a very powerful tool by itself but in the context of interculturality it gets a particularly exciting dimension.
Many trainings and approaches to intercultural competence work with questions like: How do I negotiate in the one or other country? How do you have to behave at business dinners? How to take business cards? Which hands are you allowed to shake and when is it perceived to be inappropriate? Which words are to avoid? How to behave when working with customers, teams or line managers from other countries? ….and many more.
All these questions aim at pointing out the differences between the countries which causes numerous combinations, possibilities and things to keep in mind.
Mimic resonance does work exactly inverse. Instead of talking about the differences between people from different cultures it sets the focus on the mutuality and finds some universally valid laws. That’s possible because mimic research found out that the seven basic emotions on the face are the same across all cultures. (Tomkins and later proven by Ekman, 1969) What a finding! It means not less than that with mimic resonance we have a research based, proven tool to use as the base and key for personal intercultural competence!
Thinking again of the signs and of the fact that we can learn to read them, the next good message is that with mimic resonance intercultural competence is even more learnable.
And: By knowing expressions shown the same way cross-culturally, intercultural communication gets more manageable and simple.
Instead of dealing with differences, mimic resonance identifies intercultural commonalities.
Pairing the content of “classic” intercultural competence approaches with mimic resonance, many exciting areas of application appear:
Consulting and Sales
Imagine you are talking with a customer about a new bike he considers to buy. The customer likes what he hears and asks about the price of the bike. After you name it, there is silence…and maybe a little “Hm…”. Mimic resonance can help you – no matter from which country the customer comes – to evaluate: Was his reaction rather anger or surprise? Is the price too high/appropriate/too low? Is he happy and ready for the next buying steps?
With mimic resonance in an intercultural context you have quick access to the wishes and motives of your customers which may rise both customer satisfaction and sales.
Intercultural complaint and conflict management
Service and complaint management are always challenging but can be even more so in an intercultural framing.
Please image that you are salesperson in a shop – usually an intercultural task per se – and someone wants to return a product because it does not meet his or her needs. In this situation mimic resonance is the tool helping you to notice the emotions of your customers’ right when they arise, to avoid or ease critical moments and to consciously intensify positive moments. Therefore it is the way to minimal escalation in personal complaint management.
Leading (intercultural) teams
Teams within organizations are in the first instance a social structure. Therewith they are also the entity of all existing emotions, relations, individual interest and goals. Recognizing emotions and dealing with them appropriately more and more becomes a key competence for today’s leaders. Talking with your employees, mimic resonance can help you to evaluate if a praise you speak out is actually perceived as such or if the employee feels uncomfortable or even upset by it. Being able to recognize mimic expressions is also beneficial in meetings where they help you to know if and how an information or decision is perceived on an emotional level and if solutions cause rather approval or disapproval – totally aside from what the meeting participants express verbally! Another example: delegation. Mimic resonance helps you to know if your employee really caught the message or not.
Working in virtual teams
If you are part of a virtual team you know the special challenges well: The team is permanently in contact but tasks are standing alone next to each other instead of being linked. Communication takes place only to getting things done and the virtual colleagues don’t feel like being a team. Additionally, cultural differences and the pressure to perform hinder the creation of trust and relations. This is where mimic resonance comes in. In combination with visual meetings (Skype, Zoom, AdobeConnect, …) if offers the chance to get to know, evaluate and deeply understand people across wide distances. Then the short and rich in content meeting units you probably only have can be enough and used to gain maximum information in order to act more successfully as a virtual team.
The ability to quickly recognize mimic signals can be very enriching for both your private and business life. Especially in the context of interculturalism mimic resonance develops an enormous effectiveness.
But: Do not make Othello’s mistake because mimic never tells us WHY a feeling occurs!
So stay open, observe and perceive and use mimic resonance to communicate more effectively with people from all over the world!
What serves you next?
Survival of the fittest – Only those survive who optimally adapt to their environment or who are able to procreate in spite of adverse circumstances. Darwin’s principle is still valid for nature and, in the figurative sense, also for modern organisations who have to sustain their position in a complex environment of digitalisation, globalisation and therewith a constantly changing world of work and customers.
Since decades there are leadership programs for leaders and sales programs for sales managers. In terms of the development of experts you find comparatively few specific offers and programs. Even more surprising if you think of the fact that the experts’ importance is constantly rising in nowadays knowledge society and that they can give a boost to an organisation’s innovation potential.
Being a leader, again and again we are in situations where we have to deal with strong emotions. Sometimes these emotions are positively connoted like joy and passion. And something they are negatively experienced, these are emotions like grief, anger, disappointment. The „negative“ ones are exceptionally challenging. Fortunately the labels „taboo“ and „unprofessional“ begin to disappear and therewith begin to offer a more differentiated approach to the topic enhancing social and emotional intelligence and simultaneously making teams, leaders and organisations more successful.