Mirroring is an effective technique to help establish rapport with the person you are trying to communicate with. Although it is not solely responsible for breaking the ice and completely diminishing a person’s defenses. In general, people fear the unknown. When someone sees another person who is their extreme counterpart, they wonder about them, and likely feel a little intimidated. Mirroring creates an unconscious effort to destroy that intimidation, and create a feeling of like-mindedness that is helpful in all situations. The technique of Mirroring is borrowed from the field of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP)

Mirroring refers to the simultaneous ‘copying’ of the behavior of another person, as if reflecting their movements back to them. When done with respect and discretion, mirroring creates a positive feeling and responsiveness in you and others.

Mirroring can be done by imitating the other person’s physical positions and mannerisms, and/or imitating the other person’s verbal approach and style. In physical mirroring, the person mirroring reflects the body postures and non-verbals of the other person. In verbal mirroring, the person mirroring adopts the tone of voice, words used and communication style of the other person. For example, if the person you are talking to often uses words that reflect a preference for the kinesthetic sense (“I feel that”, you can use similar words, rather than phrases like “I understand that”)

NEUROSCIENCE of MIRRORING

The neuroscience behind limbic synchrony has everything to do with the discovery of mirror neurons and how empathy develops in the brain. In the late 1980s, researchers at the University of Parma in Italy found that the brain cells of macaque monkey fired in the same way whether they were making a particular motion (like reaching for a peanut) or watching another monkey or human make that movement. In terms of motor cell activity, the monkey’s brain could not tell the difference between actually doing something and seeing it done. The scientists named those brain cells “mirror neurons.”

In human beings, it was found that mirror neurons not only simulate actions, they also reflect intentions and feelings. As such, they play a key role in our ability to socialize and empathize with others. Before the discovery of mirror neurons scientists generally believed that we used analytical thought processes to interpret and predict other people’s motives and actions. Now, however, many have come to believe that we understand each other not by analysis, but through emotion. By reading non verbal signals and automatically interpreting the emotion behind them, we get an intuitive sense of the world around us – without having to think about it.

Here’s how it works for you as a leader: Mirror neurons fire when you see an emotion expressed on a person’s face – or read it in his or her gestures or posture. You then subconsciously place yourself in the other person’s “mental shoes” and begin to recall and experience that same emotion. It’s your mirror neurons that give you the capacity to experience the joys and sorrows of others and to connect with them on an emotional level.

Later the researchers found that when someone mirrors your behavior, the areas of your brain that activate are the same ones that process rewards and make you feel good. So not only Mirroring is hard wired in your Brain but it is also Rewarded. It is this hardwiring that you need to take advantage of to do mirroring the right way.

So, why do we need a technique like Mirroring? When most Negotiators engage in discussions in which strong and differing opinions arise, there is often a tendency to speak without listening, attempt to verbally overpower the other, act defensively, make excuses, all which lead to lack of effective communication. These pitfalls lead to arguments, stalemates, hurt feelings and frustrations. Mirroring helps avoid these common communication pitfalls.

Mirroring consists of three main steps. The first is about Reflecting or Being heard. The second is about Validation and Empathy. The third step is about Resolution.

  1. Reflecting or being heard – To start, you want to give the other person your complete attention. Began with Actively listening and observing their Non Verbals and make them feel important by acknowledging them with your Eye Contact and nods, Throughout all of this, a lot of mirroring is likely happening naturally on its own, but here are some mirroring techniques you can now use to build and amplify their connection to you.
  2. Validation and Empathy – These two are critical because if done correctly, the listener now not only feels heard, but also validated, understood and empathized with as well. Sometimes, this is sufficient, and the dialogue concludes at this point. However at other times, it may be necessary to go further into resolution.
  3. Resolution – To conclude, one needs to move on to resolution, It is critical for both parties to understand each other and mutually agree to a Win Win Resolution. All conflicts began with an disagreement and get resolved with Consensus after Resolution

By using this technique, you will not only enhance your communication skills in general, you will also begin to notice people will feel more of a connection with you that becomes essential throughout the business industry, Remember when you mirror, make sure that you are mirroring positive non-verbals and nothing negative like turning away, blocking with your arms folded, closing your eyes or looking away.

When we practice these techniques with intention and respect, we can enhance our communication with others and achieve greater levels of success in our personal and professional relationships.

Thank you!!

Hemali Mehta
IMPA member
Chapter President – Thane Chapter

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