Imitation may be a form of flattery, but it can also be incredibly annoying.

By Real Simple
Updated May 21, 2015
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Without whining and calling them a "copycat" like a toddler, how do you handle the subtle threat that comes with being imitated by a friend or a peer? This week on "I Want to Like You," host Kristin van Ogtrop speaks to Tanya Chartrand, professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke University, and Catherine Newman, Real Simple's Modern Manners columnist, to discuss how to handle these situations without getting defensive.

Chartrand, who studies mimicry, explains how it can be unconscious—you might imitate someone's expressions or gestures without knowing it. So before you get annoyed, consider that they probably don't realize they're mirroring your movements. However, most people's irritation stems from more outright mimicry—when a friend copies your haircut, your outfit, or your paint color, and somehow diminishes your own sense of being unique and original. Newman offers a few strategies for handling a copycat—especially when they become competitive. Listen to the full episode below, and don't forget to subscribe on iTunes!