Ever met someone whose magnetic energy pulled you in to a great conversation? Or conversely, someone else whose vibe was so off you wanted to run for the hills?

At the heart of both is the Law of State Transference.

The Law of State Transference is the name given to the phenomenon of one person’s mood, emotions and feelings affecting another’s.

It’s the secret sauce behind magnetic charisma or why you sense someone is creepy even if you can’t put your finger on why.

The Law of State Transference works because of empathy—our state of mind for understanding the feelings of others.

Whatever someone’s vibe is, it manifests itself in the person’s gestures, postures and tone of voice.

We subconsciously register the emotions that our interlocutors are feeling in an interaction. This means that if the other person is feeling negative, you’ll likely feel negativity in that conversation too. If the other person is feeling good, then so will you.

I found this out all too well first hand several years ago.

My story on the power of the Law of State Transference

Many years ago I went to a barber to get a haircut. At the time, the only hairdresser free to cut my hair was a new lady. Not being particularly fussy with who cut my hair back then, I sat down in the chair and after a rough verbal exchange of what I wanted done, she began to cut my hair.

After some minutes, I noticed in the mirror that she was cutting my hair shorter than I’d have liked. Naturally, I began to feel an internal sense of dissatisfaction; it’s not like the cut was reversible after all.

However, the disappointment wasn’t ‘etched on my face’ or palpable. As far as I could tell, I never reacted, kept it hidden and was as poker-faced as an Easter Island statue.

That didn’t stop her from noticing. Almost immediately she asked me “Are you ok?” in a voice of concern and I saw her furrowed brow in the mirror’s reflection.

Not wanting to raise an issue about something irreversible (it’ll grow back anyway was my thinking), I answered “Yes”, but I saw first hand the potency of the phenomenon. Despite not having said anything or made any sign of displeasure with my face or body language, she had picked up my mood.

I was stunned at the levels of perception human beings can possess towards others, even without words. My fascination probably offset the disappointment of the haircut (it wasn’t that bad anyway but I always bring a photo to show from now on).

Of course there’s nothing esoteric about this explanation, a deeper analyst would show I was giving off micro expressions I didn’t realise. Regardless, the power of the Law of State Transference rang true that day.

The problem with mirroring and matching

We have a natural ability to read moods due to ‘mirror neurons’, parts of our brains that were discovered in the 1990s by Italian neuroscientists.

As their name suggests, mirror neurons are behind the phenomenon of ‘mirroring’. Much of the common parlance on communication skills makes reference to this concept.

This is the act of copying someone’s body language and behaviour in the hope of ‘hijacking’ the power of mirror neurons to your benefit. Research has shown that people who are getting on well with each other or are influenced by their interlocutor tend to mirror that person’s body language to at least some degree.

Sounds simple, a little hack for generating rapport, why don’t we all do it?

The problem is actively trying to mirror and match someone can backfire and create an unintended effect.

First of all, copying someone else’s every movement can come across as mockery and be downright cringeworthy. If you match someone else’s movements artificially, you’ll become like a wooden marionette in a puppetry show and probably end up annoying the other person.

Secondly, concentrating on every single move your interlocutor makes creates excessive fixation on their body language at the expense of paying attention to the conversation on the whole. It’s next to impossible to having an organic, free-flowing and smooth conversation when you’re in your head the whole time worrying about how to copy that micro movement you just saw the other make.

Instead, the solution is to allow mirroring to emanate from the bottom up rather than the top down.

True mirroring is a natural by-product of having great rapport. Forcing it often comes across as inauthentic. It was designed to be conducted unconsciously. Trying to emulate it with the conscious mind backfires. Instant rapport (see below) creates the conditions for it to happen automatically.

Law Of State Transference Mirroring

The Law of Reverse Effect

When the conscious mind tries to do something that the unconscious mind is designed to do, it risks getting in the way. This is known as the Law of Reverse Effect.

Imagine two chefs working in the same restaurant kitchen. One is a pâtissier specialising in desserts. The other is a chef de partie in charge of starters and main courses and has never worked on desserts before.

What happens if the chef de partie tries to help the pâtissier with the dessert menu? Instead of being helpful, they’ll likely get in the way and create more disruption with the output than if they’d stayed on their line. Best to let the specialist do their job without interference.

The conscious and unconscious mind work the same way. Instead of attempting to impose consciousness on an unconscious process, it’s best to let the unconscious mind do its thing. 

This is how the Law of State Transference operates in conversations—letting the unconscious mind thrive from the bottom up. Once you do this you’ll find yourself enjoying the interaction much more.

The Law of State Transference for instant rapport

Now that you know the theory, you’re probably wondering how you emulate this in practice.

We all have experience of being in conversations that flowed smoothly full of good emotions. We could riff off of the other person’s energy without a second thought.

But we also know conversations that were dry and limp lacking a spark. Jump-starting these interactions seemed out of our control.

How can we activate a way of triggering the energy of the former more often?

This is where the instant rapport technique comes in.

It’s not just the words you say that matter, it’s how you say them.

The instant rapport technique works with the grain of your unconscious mind so that state transference occurs from the bottom up.

The premise is based around a simple concept: rehearse in your mind the ways you’d like others to feel about you, then they’ll feel like that around you and tend to attach those emotions to you.

Instant rapport technique

(1) Think of someone dear to you that you have a strong, positive connection with and who makes you feel good. This can be a loved one, friend or even a pet. Think or recall a scenario where you’re with that person and the positive mood you get from it.

(2) Intensify this thought or memory. Allow yourself to really feel and embody this positive emotion, bathing in it as it were. This will allow your mind to project this mood.

(3) When you interact with someone in this mood, you’ll unconsciously send out friendship signals. Once you’ve embodied the good feeling, you can let go of the thought or memory and just enjoy the interaction with the person in front of you.

When you interact in this manner, you and your interlocutor will both likely enjoy the conversation more and mirror each other naturally. It makes life a lot easier to not have to think about your exact movements in an interaction with someone else.

With instant rapport, you have to FEEL the emotional content and not just the thought itself. 

If you only have the thought content but not the emotional part, your unconscious mind will merely project a mild reaction.

This technique isn’t a magic bullet guaranteeing amazing conversations and deep connections every time.

But it will have a large impact on your interactions.

Practice in small simple steps.

You can practice embodying the Law of State Transference and instant rapport when shopping for groceries, ordering in coffee shops or standing in a line and talking to others. You’ll find your conversations becoming more and more vibrant. With that comes the organic matching of someone else’s body language, intonation and structure of language.

As you practice this more often, you’ll internalise what it’s like to do it for larger stake situations.

One of the big secrets behind charisma and building rapport is being able to ride a wave of initial discomfort until it subsides and you’re able to make the other person feel the positivity that you feel.

If you embody the Law of State Transference, this period of discomfort will end quicker on average and your infectious mood will rub off on the other.

Another tool to coping with an initial wave of social tension or discomfort is to become aware of your breathing. Focusing on your breath is another method of getting you out of your head and snapping you out of an awkward stupor. This is the power behind mindfulness meditation.

Law Of State Transference Rapport

The Law of State Transference and feedback loops

Much of the strength behind the Law of State Transference is in the way it acts as a feedback loop.

If you’re feeling positive, content and engaging, the person you’re interacting with will soon feel the same way associating you with this set of positive emotions they’re now feeling. This will cause you to feel even more confident in your own skin and radiate a continuous positivity in the interaction.

Conversely, if you’re feeling anxious, stiff, bored or any other negative emotion, the other person will pick up on this and have their mood dampened as a result. They’ll associate you with a feeling of negativity and at worst, you’ll internalise this as the person not liking you which can affect your own perception of your self-confidence in social situations.

It’s why we don’t like it when we sense that someone wants something from us such as a street salesperson or a friend who’s so eager to please that they end up annoying you. These people need something from you and seek your approval, making you feel put upon. We sniff their ulterior motive out and immediately put up our defenses.

Therefore, it’s important that we don’t want things from people, we want things for them.

Societies are built because one person helps another person out and that person in turn helps them or someone they know out resulting in the creation of something new that wouldn’t have existed without cooperation.

The vicious feedback cycle explains why people with high social anxiety or extreme shyness feel so out of their depth in social interactions. It’s not that they lack the raw ability to socialise well. They can listen and speak fine. It’s that they’ve developed a learned helplessness to socialising and meeting new people that shoots them in the foot before they even engage with others. Prior negative experiences make them buttress up their social walls, fearful of engaging with any group.

If instead they understand that every new interaction is different and approach the next one with a positive state of mind such as with the technique above, they increase the likelihood of the interaction going well. The more positive reference experiences they collect, the quicker they’ll stop the vicious loop of learned helplessness and transform the feedback cycle into a positive one.

Law Of State Transference Feedback Loop


The Law of State Transference is the sensitivity we have towards other people’s moods and emotions and our ability to feel and project those very states ourselves. It’s why some people’s positivity seems to overwhelm us out of nowhere or why we’re repelled by the negative vibe of others sensing that something is ‘off’.

Many gurus and business workshop coordinators teach mirroring and matching as a communication skill. But top down mirroring is artificial, it often doesn’t work and can backfire. It’s much more effective to allow natural mirroring to take place bottom up via the Law of State Transference.

One way of projecting the Law of State Transference in conversations is by using the instant rapport technique. This will help you generate a positive mood conducive to good interactions and ride initial waves of social tension with new people that can occur.

Lastly, understand that the Law of State Transference is a feedback loop that can go to either good or bad extremes. Stay on the positive feedback cycle trajectory by treating every new interaction as an opportunity and wanting things for people rather than from them.

Like this post? The people who thrive in today’s society are the ones who can adapt and communicate with anyone, anywhere, anytime. Subscribe to Abroad Lifestyles for free to learn other communication insights you won’t hear anywhere else.