Mirroring is a phenomenon frequently observed between two people in conversation. When a person is mirroring who they talk to, mimicking their body language and enthusiasm, it is a signal that the two people are at ease with each other and have taken a similar point of view.
Mirroring starts in infancy as babies learn about the world by imitating the behavior of those around them. This imitative behavior continues through life, from adolescence into adulthood, and if used consciously, mirroring may subconsciously influence others: many artists who claim to be hypnotists or psychics, such as Long Island Medium Theresa Caputo, use mirroring.
Chris Voss, a former FBI Negotiator and current CEO of the Black Swan Group, is an expert on mirroring. If your goal is to better position yourself in a negotiation, mirroring is a technique you can use to choose your language carefully. By repeating the other person’s last few words, just one to three of them, you can indicate that you are listening. Not only that, but it pushes the conversation forward as the person feels free to delve in deeper.
Repeating someone’s last words also gives you time to think about your own place in negotiation. After your short reply repeating them, most people will expand on what they mean. Voss says that the small delay caused by repeating those one to three words can in the long run save much time, and help things to go your way.
Chris Voss’s book is Never Split the Difference: Negotiating as if Your Life Depended On It.