Polish Your Listening Skills | Omega

The techniques of mirroring can build your empathy muscle and help you communicate better in your relationships.

Mirroring is a way to develop a better rapport with friends, coworkers, and family members.

Whether you are looking for simple ways to ease conflicts when emotions are running high, or just want the person you are speaking with to know you hear them, these related techniques from the counseling world can improve the bonds of any relationship.

A mirror is “a polished or smooth surface that forms images by reflection” and “something that gives a true representation,” according to Merriam-Webster dictionary.

When it comes to mirroring others, the process is simple. It involves mimicking another's speech, gestures, or behaviors. The practice happens subconsciously, but can also be done consciously and can help the other person feel seen and heard.

The basic process of mirroring comes quite naturally to many of us. Remember when you were a child and liked to imitate others? Your mom may have rolled her eyes and said, “Monkey see, monkey do.”

While we may have been teasing our siblings this way when we were young, as an adult we can use these skills to better connect with others.

One study found that when a person on a date mirrors the other person’s gestures, such as touching their face or crossing their legs, it can make them appear more attractive to the other person. In the business world, it can also be used to help negotiations and close better deals.

Another study found that waiters who mirror their customers by repeating their orders back to them got a 70 percent larger tip than those who used positive reinforcement, such as saying something like, “Sure, sounds great,” after each order.

You can apply this innate skill and mirror someone by smiling if they smile at you or crossing your arms if they cross theirs. You can also mirror a tone of voice or mirror back to someone the words they've just said to you, either exactly or paraphrasing them.

Polish Your Mirroring Skills

Mirroring require practice. You can start by observing how you already mirror people in your life or how they mirror you. Then, try it yourself, remembering some of these tips.

  • Be natural

  • Listen for the basic message

  • Restate what you have been told in simple terms

  • Do not add to the speaker's meaning

  • Avoid irrelevant questions

  • Stay focused on the topic at hand

  • Always be nonjudgmental

© 2015 Omega Institute for Holistic Studies