by Faith Monson
I’m a success coach, which has a surprising similarity to being a Sherpa climbing guide on Mt. Everest. Like the Sherpa, I help clients find a safe route on a risky journey toward a place where they can achieve their goal and see the world from a new, higher vantage point.
Mountain climbers have their tools of the trade, and so do I. I’ve found that Mirroring is a great technique to help clients recognize where they are unintentionally limiting themselves. I do this by helping them find the places where their language sheds light on ways they are keeping themselves tethered to the ground, instead of climbing to new heights.
Mirroring works by making a person aware of what they’re really saying and how their words affect perception. For some people, that can be recognizing the “shoulds” that crowd in and make life rigid. For others, it’s becoming aware of a long-time pattern of side-stepping praise and giving self-deprecating replies. Another common example includes unconscious negativity that creeps in, focusing on the risks of every new endeavor instead of the opportunity.
Mirroring is conversational. In mirroring, your coach listens intently not just to what you’re saying (the concept) but to how you say it (the words, body language and nonverbals). By gently replaying the actual content (“What I heard you say was…”), the coach creates a safe space for you to see what others are really hearing. This is the first step to changing limiting patterns and changing the way others see you on the job and in relationships.
Experts say that our most successful conversations happen when both parties unconsciously mirror each others’ body language, vocal patterns and pitch. By mirroring the verbal and nonverbal cues you’re sending, your success coach allows you to become aware of signals you may not mean to be sending and learn to correct those behaviors for more effective communication. By learning to act on the cues others are sending you, you’ll be better able to match their emotional state and create improved rapport, making your point more successfully.