When you study human behavior, it’s quite clear that we tend to bond with or be more attracted to those that are most like ourselves. When someone behaves in a manner that we understand and can relate to, we are more receptive to ideas and opinions that the other person might express.
Mirroring behavior in NLP takes advantage of this innate human quality by intently watching the mannerisms, tone, posture and speaking style of the other person. By using our senses to tune into the other person’s state, we can begin mimicking their behavior and establish trust. Once we have that trust, we can then begin to sway them over to our way of thinking.
Many people make the mistake of using mirroring too literally. If you mirror someone in a way that simply repeats everything they say or behave in a manner identical to them, it’s going to be obvious and make the listener suspicious. Mirroring should be done with a more subtle approach. When you do it in such a way that the listener doesn’t notice, you are using mirroring to its maximum effect. The best way to do this is to use the same language pattern that they’re using. You can usually identify these patterns by initially observing them intently while asking leading questions. This way they will give you the information you need to begin speaking to them in a way that they can relate to. Using an old 60’s example, if they are using terms such as “groovy”, “cool” or “right on”, you would want to make sure you are speaking in that same style and taking on a different persona of sorts so that they know that you can relate to what they are saying. This will put them in a relaxed and receptive state and once you have them there, you can then begin making suggestions or offering proof of your idea or concept.
In addition to mirroring someone linguistically, presenting yourself using the same mannerisms or gestures can also help put someone at ease. Again, subtly is key and you should only apply style and not repeat every gesture they make. If they are sitting in a chair with one leg crossed over the other, you could do the same but at a slightly different angle. You want your gestures or mannerisms to strongly resemble theirs but with enough of a difference so they don’t become suspicious.
One of the key elements in mirroring effectively is the ability to observe and identify someone’s style fairly quickly. Each individual processes information differently and you need to be able to identify whether they are visual, audio or emotionally based in the way that they consider new knowledge. Depending on their representational style, you’ll want to alter your presence to mirror theirs for maximum effect.
If you want to use NLP techniques to influence others, you’ll need to become more observant of the world around you. People are telling you in an unspoken language how they’re feeling about what you’re saying and what they think of you. By observing this language, you’ll gain powerful insight in to the minds of others and you’ll be able to adjust to each individually so they will be receptive to your thoughts and ideas.