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Listen Up! Day 2: Mirror, Mirror

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Welcome to day two of Only Human's Listen Up! bootcamp week. If you're here for the first time, here's how to participate.

The Challenge: Find a friend, stand face to face, and reflect the other person like you’re standing in front of a mirror. If they smile, you smile back. If they frown, you frown. Pay attention to your partner and reflect back what you see. Fall in sync, and move together.

Watch Only Human's Mary Harris and Paige Cowett demonstrate "mirroring":

Okay, we know it seems strange to talk about body language for a listening challenge. We don't listen to body movements or facial expressions. But we would be missing a whole lot of information if we ignored them. Plus, your own body language during conversation communicates a lot, even affecting how well someone tells a story to you.

So we took a page from some experts on body language: actors. Okieriete “Oak” Onaodowan performs two very different types of characters in the smash hit musical Hamilton. Being able to read and “mirror” the body language of others is one of the keys to Onaodowan’s success on stage — and it also helps him better understand and empathize with people in his everyday life.

Fay Simpson teaches movement at the Tisch School's graduate acting program at NYU. She developed a physical training method for actors called The Lucid Body, and often has her students “mirror” each other as a frequent exercise in the studio. “When you understand body language,” Simpson explains, “you understand the intention of someone, what they want from you.”


Do the mirroring exercise with a partner, then tell us what it was like for you. Did you get past the awkwardness? Did you learn something about your partner? Leave us a voicemail at (803) 820-WNYC or send a voice memo to 

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