Mirroring technique with nonverbal communication

Written by michelle blessing
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Mirroring technique with nonverbal communication
Mirroring can be an essential communication skill. (Lisa Stirling/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

The mirroring technique is part of a field of communication called neuro-linguistic programming. NLP was developed in the 1970s and focuses on how people accurately or inaccurately convey information to others. Body language and hand movements during a conversation can indicate something very different from the words being spoken.

Mirroring with a person during conversation establishes feelings of closeness and rapport, which in turn develop trust and openness or honesty when speaking. Close observation and subtle movements are key components of the mirroring technique.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Pay attention to the person you are conversing with. Watch how she moves her hands, eyes and mouth. Observe her posture and position during the conversation.

    Mirroring technique with nonverbal communication
    Many people gesture with their hands during a conversation. (hands image by isatori from Fotolia.com)
  2. 2

    Position your body in a similar fashion to the person you are conversing with. If he is leaning forward in his chair, you should follow suit and lean forward. If the person sits back in his chair, you should do the same.

    Mirroring technique with nonverbal communication
    Sitting in a similar fashion can promote bonding. (sitting on the side lines image by Alison Bowden from Fotolia.com)
  3. 3

    Reflect the person's hand and body movements in a subtle manner. Stroke your knee or place your hand on your chin several seconds after the person does. Cross and uncross your legs to reflect your conversation partner's posture.

    Mirroring technique with nonverbal communication
    Cross your legs if your conversation partner has done so as well. (legs image by Deborah Durbin from Fotolia.com)
  4. 4

    Mirroring facial movements and emotions can enhance the conversation experience. If the person is happy and smiling, you should do the same. Conversely, if he is sad and crying, you should reflect his facial movements; for example, look down at the floor or purse your lips to demonstrate your understanding of the feeling.

    Mirroring technique with nonverbal communication
    Mirroring facial movements is important in any conversation. (crying image by Serg Golubev from Fotolia.com)
  5. 5

    Continue to observe your conversation partner and modify your body movements and positions as needed.

    Mirroring technique with nonverbal communication
    Use mirroring to make your conversation effective and successful. (A businessman an businesswoman having a conversation image by sumos from Fotolia.com)

Tips and warnings

  • Be subtle in your movements. Your conversation partner should not feel you are focusing on his every move and adjusting yourself, which could be uncomfortable. Casually change positions or move while continuing to speak in a normal tone.
  • Practice or role-play with a partner if you feel unsure of how to use the mirroring technique.

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