Have you ever noticed that some people share similar speech patterns with one another? This is not a coincidence. It is a way that people subconsciously communicate that they have similar views with another person without actually voicing it. As explained by Florian Jaeger, associate professor of brain and cognitive sciences at the University of Rochester, “Few people are aware that they alter their word pronunciation, speech rate and even the structure of their sentences during conversation.”
In a recent study reported in Science Daily titled, “People with Similar Views Closely Mirror Each Other’s Speech Patterns,” researchers tested a group of participants by having them listen to audio messages spoken in a specific sentence structure. In doing this, researchers found that the participants who agreed with the audio messages would subconsciously mirror the sentence structure of that message when describing actions taking place in a picture. On the contrary, those who disagreed with the audio messages would not mirror the sentence structure at all.
We tend to trust people who think like we do, which is why we mirror each other’s speech patterns. Understanding that similar speech patterns are due to having similar views can be a really helpful tool in mediation or negotiation. For example, if an attorney or client mirrors a similar speech pattern as your own, there is a high chance that they agree with your outlook and are willing to be more flexible with the outcome of the situation. However, if an attorney or client doesn’t mirror your speech pattern, it could be helpful to mirror their speech pattern to subconsciously communicate that degree of trust.
However, be cautious not to mimic someone’s exact speech patterns because it will appear obvious and create a barrier for establishing trust. You can achieve mirroring speech patterns by changing the tones or tempo of your voice, as well as using a selective choice of words. If you would like to experiment how others perceive your messages, try exercising this technique at your next mediation or negotiation.