One of the points that Dan Pink makes in his new book “To Sell is Human” is about mimicking. Hmm … sounds like something bad. Like we are making fun of someone. Actually, according to Dan, mimicking is a good thing.
Why? Research shows that when people experience (see or hear) a mirror image of themselves they feel better. So a waitress that repeats the order word for word back to her clients gives better service and gets better tips. So when I scratch my ear, you should follow suit.
There is a caveat - the other person cannot notice that you are doing this. If they do, the effect is reversed. They get annoyed.
That is an interesting thought. But it is more interesting when you apply it to communication over the web. Because I can’t see you on the web, I can’t give you the comfort that you might want. We need tools to substitute for that.