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Mirroring

Mirroring simply consists of adapting yourself to be similar to the other person in some way. There are multiple methods and formats for this.

Underlying Psychology/Biases

Mirroring works because, as you adopt the same words or moods as the other person, they will identify with you more. The more that they consider you some like them, the more easy they are to persuade.

Sub-Techniques

Specific mirroring methods that work well include:

Included in UPP:

  • Confirmatory mirroring
    • Repeating the person’s words back to them in an inquiring manner;
    • “It was a very hard time for us”. “A very hard time?”;
    • Confirmed by persuasion experiments to increase likability and reciprocity (waiter experiment);
    • In order for this to work, you have to use the same exact words. Similar ones won’t do;
  • Mood mirroring
    • Feeling the same as the person is to connect more with them, so you can then change it;
    • When a person is angry, or sad, or others, they want you to feel their pain to an extent. So this is exactly what you do;
    • The NLP pattern of “pacing and leading”;
      • First you change to match the person’s rhythm;
      • Now that you are connected, you can change the rhythm;

Others:

  • Energy level mirroring
    • Similar to mood mirroring, but even more general;
    • Just matching a person’s energy level itself, to seem more relatable;
  • Body language mirroring
    • Adopting similar poses or gestures as the target;
      • If they’re open and smiling, doing it as well;
      • If they cross their legs, doing it as well;

Apart from empathy, there is a technique that is used for another purpose, which is to disarm the person, which is augmented mirroring. In short, when someone is feeling a negative emotion, you feel it even more to disarm them.

  • If someone is angry, you seem even angrier to make them seem calm by comparison;
  • If someone is skeptical, you seem even more skeptical to make them seem an action-taker by comparison;
  • This works due to the social effect of positivity and negativity
    • When someone is negative in a group, the other people will try and be positive to complement them;
    • Also, when most people are too positive and woo-woo, someone will be negative or assertive on purpose to rebalance the dynamic;
    • So when someone shows a negative emotion, they are trying to get you to react and be positive. They are the dangerous, unpredictable one, trying to make you the safe and positive person;
      • So what you do is… the opposite. You become even more negative than them, and they are the ones who are going to seem safe and positive by comparison;

Examples

  • Waiters
    • The example from the original persuasion experiment done;
    • Waiters would do many different things that could get customers to like them;
    • The most effective tool was mirroring in a confirmatory manner;
    • “I’ll have the steak and red wine”;
      • “I see. The steak and red wine?”;
  • Customer Service representatives
    • CS representatives are great at emulating the emotions that a person is feeling in order to connect better with them;
    • When a customer seems sad or hesitant, they will seem to be in a similar state to connect with them, rather than being happy or energetic;
  • Comforting others
  • Videogame answers
    • Old videogames, such as RPGs, are a great example of confirmatory mirroring;
    • A character would say something, and all your dialogue options would be mirroring specific parts of the statement;
    • “The victim seems to have jumped through the window at 8 PM”;
      • “The victim?”;
      • “Through the window?”;
      • “At 8 PM?”;

Commercial/Known Uses

  • Chris Voss/The Black Swan Group‘s “Hostage-Negotiator Mirroring” (confirmatory mirroring for the last 2-3 words of a sentence);
    • “It was a very hard time for us”;
    • “A very hard time?”;

Key Takeaways

  • Mirroring is all about changing your words, or mood, or others, to seem symmetrical to to the other person. Like two halves of the same whole. This increases identification;
  • Mirroring can be done in multiple ways, but two quick ones are words and mood. To use confirmatory mirroring, simply mirror the person’s words back to them in an inquiring manner. To use mood mirroring, simply appear to be in the same mood as them;
  • All types of mirroring can be part of a pacing and leading pattern. The goal is to first match what the person is saying or feeling, and once you are on the same wavelength, you can change it;
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