Matching and Mirroring: A Quick Rapport Building Technique

Whether you call it rapport building, removing barriers or creating empathy, you should not really consider matching or mirroring as a technique – unless of course, you don’t practice it as part of your everyday life.

Most of us mirror people we communicate with quite naturally and totally subliminally.

Why Matching and Mirroring Matter for Hypnosis.

  • You may have heard an English person trying to explain something to a foreigner and for some unknown reason, lapsing into a strange foreign accent!
  • When talking to a child, we know automatically that we should mirror or match their language, otherwise proper communication is impossible.

It is an excellent idea to be aware of what mirroring is because there will be times when we will treat it as a technique and adopt it as a conscious aid to communication.

Especially when we are attempting to put someone into a hypnotic trance through the medium of conversational hypnosis where some sort of empathetic ‘connection between hypnotist and subject is 100% necessary.

The Message Should Be Delivered Differently to Different Recievers.

There are some people who appear to launch straight into a close relationship with a complete stranger with everyone else wondering how that could possibly have happened. The odds are that they are using subtle mirroring techniques without really being aware of doing it because it is a natural part of their make up.

You are already aware that you would not use the same sort of language to a vicar as you would on a building site manager and vice versa.

Who you are communicating with changes the language you use because you want to get your message across but at the same time you want to create rapport or empathy with the receiver of your message - so that the message has the biggest impact possible.

Your mission is always to build a certain level of comfort as well as trust between you, the communicator and the receiver, whilst making sure that the communicator and receiver both have the same understanding of the message.

Mirroring is by no means limited to the spoken word as you can mirror and match the person you are attempting to communicate with through your body language.

The Difference Between Matching and Mirroring.

There is one small distinction that we should make and that is the fact that there is a subtle difference between matching and mirroring and the clue is in the words themselves.

The only difference between the two is that mirroring is by far the most powerful of the two techniques.

  • If you as a communicator observe the receiver and you wish to create some sort of rapport and you notice that they touch their cheek with their right hand, you touch your cheek with your left. That’s mirroring.
  • In matching, you would touch your cheek with your right.

In order to teach yourself this technique (if it is not natural to you), you need to practice and practice. Unless you are inordinately clumsy, whoever you are practising on will not notice.

An Example of Matching and Mirroring.

You should be able to make both matching and mirroring look very straightforward and simple.

  • If you’re sitting opposite someone and they lean towards you while you are having a discussion, the mere fact that you lean forwards as well looks very natural because you are expressing interest.
  • By the same token if they are indulging in some sort of gesture, it will be quite normal for you to do exactly the same.

A very good example of natural mirroring is once again something which is very typically English. It is the short laugh at the end of a sentence. You probably do it yourself and no longer notice it.

The next time you talk to somebody you can observe yourself returning that silly little laugh because you know subconsciously that by doing so you will be creating rapport.

Apart from vocabulary, you may find yourself mirroring both tone of voice and pace of speech. If you care to listen to yourself speaking to someone who is talking very fast, you will find during your own delivery you are gradually gaining pace.

If you can consciously do this technique and practice it, it will become second nature. So once again we have gone from the conscious and subconscious!

A Word of Caution and Parting Words.

But a word of caution, if you meet somebody who walks and talks like Quasimodo, you do not even begin to attempt to match mirror either their posture or their speech. If you do, you would have crossed the line between creating empathy and being rude or annoying.

To start with, try some of the more subtle aspects of the person’s speech or physiology.

One of the things which makes the job of a hypnotherapist or NLP practitioner much easier is that ability to create lightning-fast rapport with a subject. Your results will be much deeper and more profound if you work positively on the essential art of creating a relationship.

If for instance your subject recounts an anecdote from their lives to you, there is absolutely no harm in you doing the same by creating rapport within the common ground of a similar story.

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Matching and Mirroring are forms of mimicry but of a far more subtle type because once you master the technique and begin to apply it subconsciously - in other words when it is no longer a technique - you will find it very useful not only in your professional life but an excellent additional life skill.