"Mirroring" is the term used to describe the technique of subtly copying another person's postures to build rapport. "When I was a therapist, I often used mirroring to help make clients more comfortable talking to me," says Goman. You're not trying to mimic all his movements. If he has one arm slung across the back of the couch, you might uncross your arms and legs. The idea is to show empathy through body language. This should put you both at ease, allowing conversation to flow more naturally.
Smile often—but don't expect him to smile back.
Good moods and enthusiasm are contagious. Ronald F. Levant, EdD, a professor of psychology at the University of Akron in Ohio who specializes in getting men to open up, says that his clients often tell him how much they enjoy it when women smile at them. "It makes them feel liked, keeps them engaged and builds their confidence," he says—and it puts them in a chatty mood. But unlike women, who usually react to a smile by beaming back, Levant says that you should be aware that men are far less likely to reciprocate.
If you want an answer, ask a question.
When working with male and female executives, Goman has noticed that men are less animated than women in conversations; they don't nod as often or make as many affirmative sounds, like "mm-hmm." (Studies on gender differences in nonverbal communication back her up.) Some men, especially those who were raised in an earlier era with more traditional ideas about masculinity, think that listening means quietly giving your full attention to the speaker, says Gehart. This lack of feedback makes some women think men aren't really listening. Gehart suggests soliciting his opinions with direct questions ("Did you finish that Swedish crime novel, Dad? What did you like about it?") instead of with open-ended statements ("Oh, you're reading that Dragon Tattoo book too").
Next: The dealbreaker phrases that will shut down a conversation