Reflections on Influence: The Mirroring Technique
Have you ever been away and met someone from your hometown? You begin to talk about who you know, what restaurants are best, new buildings… and as your conversation unfolds you might begin to hear yourself veering into the regional accent and style you both shared – and your friend is doing it, too. This is a form of mirroring. When we employ this technique it’s usually automatic, subconscious, to get the other person to warm up to us; to reinforce camaraderie and affinity. Mirroring is fundamental to our ability to communicate persuasively. But we need to use it intentionally in order for it to work to mutual advantage.
Mirroring is also an important part of the Friendship Trigger, the foundation of all the emotional triggers that lead to a YES decision.
The mirroring technique has been noted and written about by psychologists for years. What’s interesting is that it’s still top of mind in the field, and for good reason. The mirroring and matching technique is one of the most effective ways to build rapport with strangers, new contacts and potential clients. As we all know, building rapport is one of the most critical aspects to enhance relationships and sales.
Going a little deeper, our ability to mirror the other person’s tone, voice, cadence, and enthusiasm; to match his or her dress and mannerisms – all of these tactics play a significant role in our ability to communicate persuasively. If the person with whom you are talking with is laid back and easygoing, adopt a similar attitude. Match their tone of voice, rate of speech, and gestures. We trust and befriend those we perceive to be like us. When you mirror your partner, you trigger some strong, automatic, positive reactions.
Let’s face it: The true goal of communication – persuasive communication – is to understand and to be understood. That’s hard work. To persuade, to gain willing compliance, you must communicate to understand, not just to inform or educate. Amateurs give out information. Partners use interactive communication to emotionally connect for mutual benefit.
This short video from Carol Kinsey Goman, author of The Nonverbal Advantage, breaks it down: