Management Principle: Mirroring

The way in which we communicate with others really matters. I often say that “method trumps message 100% of the time.” If we miss the mark, we lose influence. That’s why I like the concept of mirroring-a tangible and practical approach that has the power to promote and facilitate good communication. I hope you enjoy today’s principle.

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Mirroring. To have genuine influence in another person’s life, we must first make it about them and not about us. If there is any hint of self-centeredness, or the presence of a personal agenda, trust will erode and intimacy will be supplanted by suspicion. Motivation matters and even our gestures will either help or hurt our cause. To be effective at meeting human need we must mirror others with either emotion-for-emotion or fact-for-fact. Suppose you say to your loved one, “You haven’t told me you love me in a long time,” and they respond with, “I told you I loved you before–if anything changes, I’ll let you know.” How would you feel? Responding to emotions with facts devalues the one who is being transparent with their feelings. Responding to facts with emotions undermines our credibility since we are making it about us, potentially avoiding the real issue. To connect with others in a meaningful way we must mirror their state, which keeps the conversation at a level where true communication and intimacy can occur.

Coaching questions: How do you respond to others when faced with either feelings or facts? How can you improve in your mirroring skills?

Read more coaching principles from Dean Harbry on the Internal Innovations website.

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