As a coach my goal is to work not just for but with people. A genuine interest in the emotional state of others is an essential part of what I do. To sharpen my empathy radar and to improve my ability to observe how others feel in a particular situation, I’ve started my journey into mimic resonance training (in German Mimikresonanz).
Identifying an emotion in someone’s face should not be confused with mind reading, trickery or lie detection. The TV series “Lie to Me”, while highly entertaining to watch if you’ve started to train Facial Action Coding yourself, has undoubtedly contributed to some such confusion on the subject.
The deeper purpose of mimic resonance as a methodology for acting on empathy however, goes way beyond unveiling a lie.
Communication for the benefit of the relationship
In business – and undoubtedly in private lives – communication is too often a one way street, the sending of a message. But if the effectiveness of communication is your objective, simply “getting it out there” isn’t enough. How a message is perceived, what recipients have understood and how the words resonate with the audience are key to ensuring a communication goal is really achieved.
The ambition to formulate a message with little room for interpretation is certainly a good start. Conveying a message face to face theoretically allows us to actually see how the content resonates with the other person.
In the age of digital communications, the face to face option is often missing, leaving our empathy radar more or less blind. Maybe in the future we’ll be able to develop a way to create feedback loops for the digital world – perhaps with emoticons. But for the moment, this form of improving communication and ultimately relationships rests firmly on the premise that we do not replace personal interactions completely with digital ones but rather the two complement each other.
Sharpening the radar for visual feedback, before taking action
I’m thoroughly convinced that it’s essential to remove guessing games from interpersonal communication and to do whatever we can to sharpen our observations of non verbal feedback in any face to face situation.
Mimic is built into us as humans. It’s there from birth and it is scientifically proven that expressions in our mimic are universal across all cultures. It’s a truly reliable indicator for our emotional state as human beings.
But the real challenge is in learning to resonate on what you observe in someones mimic. As opposed to the “mind reading” (I know what you’re thinking) angle, observing a particular mimic, identifying it, and matching it to the respective emotion is essential. But questioning that emotion, its origin and cause is paramount to real understanding. Any sort of unfounded interpretation can easily lead you down the wrong path.
Remove obstacles in times of change
The training I’ve started will improve my ability to observe what’s happening right before my eyes and how to react to it. My goal is to sharpen my sense of people’s emotions and my skills to find the right words for the situation at hand.
- Equipped with that, I will be even better positioned to help companies answer key questions in change and digital transformation scenarios:
- Have people understood the WHY to our journey ahead?
- How do people feel about the changes affecting themselves and their teams?
- Are our teams confident and committed to their role in the process?
- Is our leadership model authentic and does it resonate with the organisation?
- Will our work deliver value for the people, employees and customers alike?