Mirror neurons, first reported in 1996, respond comparably whether an individual performs a particular action or watches someone else carry it out. Studies since then have suggested that these neurons, which coordinate imitation, participate in a network in the brain’s outer layer, or cortex. Collaboration between this network and emotion-regulating parts of the brain fosters empathy which can be defined as “the discernment of others’ thoughts and feelings”.

Smile – and the world smiles with youiStock_000000992387Medium

Phew! Now that’s the science out of the way, what does it mean for us as communicators? Perhaps an example might help. Spend a few minutes talking to someone who complains a lot and is mightily miserable, then you will come away feeling equally miserable. On the other hand, someone who is upbeat and positive – in both their verbal and non-verbal communication – is much more likely to send you on your way feeling cheerful too. Smile – and the world really does smile with you.

So don’t be a Scrooge this Christmas. Enjoy the festive season and let your enjoyment be reflected in your words as well as your body-language. Don’t be surprised if you end up being surrounded by happy people!

Principles of influence and how to apply them form part of our Focus Area “Interpersonal Communication”.