When you re-express selected keywords or sentences to demonstrate empathy or understand the other.
Mirroring makes the other one feel listened to. When you mirror, you prove that you have heard and understood what was just said, but you still need more information. Mirroring persuades the other to elaborate and continue what they are saying.
Mirroring means you repeat or re-express the keywords the other just said. These can be the last few words or the one with the most emotional temperature.
Mirroring makes the other one feel listened to. When you mirror, you prove that you have heard and understood what was just said, but you still need more information. Mirroring persuades the other to elaborate and continue what they are saying. People often say the same thing by using different words, making it easier to understand what they mean. Rewording brings clarity and avoids misunderstandings.
With mirroring, you can illustrate disagreement without judgement or blame. When the other continues talking, they clarify their thoughts and thinking processes. Sometimes issues clear out and disappear when the other takes a moment to think about the matter at hand.
Mirroring is useful when someone says something that gets you off guard and you are unsure how to respond. You avoid making hasty generalisations and wrong assumptions when you get a moment to reflect. This allows you to prevent friction or even conflicts. Mirroring establishes rapport, fast connections and trust between people - even with strangers. Mirroring can be used in speech or writing.
+ Demonstrates empathy and acknowledges that you have listened and understood the other.
+ Builds positive relationships that create feelings of safety, trust and connection.
+ It gets the other talking. Affords the other to continue opening up and you to find out more about the other.
+ Fewer misunderstandings. People have different meanings for words. After mirroring, the other one often says the same thing using different words to specify what they mean. Rewording brings clarity and avoids misunderstandings.
+ Tranquillity. Mirroring allows you to disagree with the other without the other becoming defensive and oppositional.
+ Time to think. Mirroring buys you time to choose how to react. You gain time to think about what you want or need to say.
– Ability to focus fully and listen actively. Focus takes energy and can feel overwhelming.
– Patience. Take pauses and allow silence to do its magic. Take your time to mirror again if needed.
- Keeping an open mind. Avoiding selective listening and acting on cognitive bias.
- Unchecked assumptions. Avoid jumping to conclusions.
+ Contextual and emotional intelligence to read the situation.
+ Empathy - ability to focus on the other.
+ Presence and focus.
EXAMPLES OF USE
“You keep mentioning the queueing issue. It seems to be important to you.”
Try starting your sentence with:
- “In your opinion…”
- “According to you…”
- “You are thinking that…”
- “What is upsetting you is…”
- “You are hoping that…”
- “You are wondering…”
- “You find this…”
- “You thought that…”
- “You are certain that…”
- Listen attentively. Pay attention to the keywords, especially the ones with the most emotions.
- Emotional intelligence. Pay attention when there is a misalignment on what was said and how it was said. Misalignment often comes across as irony, sarcasm, or when the nonverbal communication is opposite or does not support the verbal message.
- Contextual intelligence. Choose the accurate words and re-express those without your opinion or judgement.
- Stay objective. Don’t add your opinions or judgements into your mirroring.
- Make it neutral or positive. It is best to mirror by re-expressing the keywords with a more neutral or slightly positive angle. “The doctor is wrong!” > re-expression: “In your opinion, the doctor has misdiagnosed you.”
- Silence. After mirroring let the silence do its trick. The aim is to let the other person fill the silence and continue talking.
- Repeat if necessary. You might need to use mirroring several times. Each round allows the other to gain more self-awareness, and you get vital information to build better rapport and connection.
- Be patient. Time is your ally. Mirroring will save you time in the long run.
Scene: The CEO is giving a presentation. Satu and two other employees sit behind their desks. ⚓ The colour coding anchor is on Satu and on the verbal level only.
🙂 “So, here is the company budget for the following year. As you see…“
Satu raises her hand and interrupts:
“You have been working with the budget for next year.“
CEO looks a bit surprised but carries on:
😦 “Yes… as I was saying, we have increased the budget for product development. That’s why we have to reduce…”
Satu interrupts again:
“Bigger R&D budget.”
CEO getting a bit annoyed:
🤨 “Yes Satu. Yes again. What I’m trying to say is that we have bigger R&D and we’ve taken some money out of the coaching budget. This is because we are launching a new product…”
Satu interrupts again:
“You plan to have less coaching and launch a new product.“
CEO glares at Satu and continues:
😠 “Because this new product is very…“
Satu talks very quickly after the CEO, almost like competing with him:
“.. duct is very.“
CEO: 😡 “…expensive…“
CEO🤬 & Satu almost simultaneously: ” …to produce.”
Satu jumps up as if having won a competition: “YES!!!“
Everyone looks at Satu in a silence.
Scene: The therapist is meeting a young reluctant patient at their office. ⚓ The colour coding anchor is on the therapist.
Patient: Well, here I am. All of this is completely ridiculous, but the doctor insisted that I come to see you, so here I am.
Therapist: You find this session rather pointless.
Patient: Yes, that’s right. The doctor thinks I’m upset about something, but that is a lie.
Therapist: In your opinion the doctor is making a mistake.
Patient: Yes. I have friends, good grades and money. What could possible be wrong?
Therapist: You are wondering if something is wrong.
Patient: The doctor thought that me having crying fits is due to an emotional upset.
Therapist: You cry sometimes.
Patient: I cry for no reason, I just feel I need to cry and I cannot stop. I don’t know why.
Therapist: You don’t know why you are crying.
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