Posted by: underwaterriver | March 31, 2011

Cross-Cultural Caring: Mirror, Mirror on the Wall…

This is part 5 of the “Cross-Cultural Caring” series.  The series deals with tips and tricks that you can use to succesfully make a cross-cultural relationship work.

As this cross cultural friendship with Marisa progressed, I began to notice abit of a phenomenon. Sometimes we would mimic each other’s moves or have the same mannerisms or gestures. I didn’t think much of it until I stumbled onto some articles on the internet on a behavior psychology and body language experts called “Mirroring”. When someone “mirrors” someone and copies or mimics their actions and gestures, it is actually to create rapport between the two of them.

I cannot describe to you the wonderful feeling that went through me when I found that out. My friend has subconsciously been trying to create rapport between us through “mirroring”. And “mirroring” can actually help when you and the other person come from two very different cultures. Her culture is more open, loving, and demostrative while me as a Chinese Canadian tends to be a little bit more reserved.

Sometimes I do sense that she does hold back and be a little bit more reserved towards me when my behavior is reserved. I think she does it because she wants me to feel comfortable and doesn’t want me to feel uncomfortable in any way shape or form. And on my part, I am learning to be a little bit more open and loving because I know that she needs it and it makes her feel comfortable and it’s what she’s used to. Bit by bit we are striking a nice balance and finding a happy medium between a culture that is tends to be more reserved and a culture that tends to be more open.

Quite frankly, this first year of friendship has really been alot of experimentation on both our parts. The friendship can’t be Argentinean style because I’m not Argentinean. And it can’t be North American style because she’s not from North America. Our friendship really is a combination of a little of both cultures. I really had to try alot of different things to find out what parts of the North American culture sit well with her and what parts she could live without. And it goes the other way as well with her trying out stuff from her culture with me.

You never know whether someone is going to like something or take to it if you don’t try. Some days I have to “mirror” her and do things Argentinean style and some day she has to “mirror” me and be OK with things being done the North American way. And I gotta hand it to her because I’m actually a mix of many cultures and she’s doing a wonderful job, considering that she’s only been exposed to only Argentineans her whole life 🙂

Learning to mirror someone is one of the keys to a good relationship. Watching and observing actions and reactions and responding accordingly is vital. It can mean life or death in a relationship and in the case of these Cirque du Soleil performers it could mean life or death literally!

Mirror, mirror on the wall….

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