Mirroring Technique And How It is used for Manipulation

Mirroring is one of the most popular techniques used for manipulation and persuasion. You will see its usages in a vast variety of fields from the sales to crime investigation. It is a powerful tool you can use for your career or in everyday life. It is also very useful to be able to detect it easily in case somebody is trying to use mirroring against you. Without further ado, let us dive in and learn more about it.


Using the mirroring technique is simple and has one very particular goal. You are mimicking somebody else’s behavior to build rapport and develop trust. It is effective because people tend to like others who are similar to them. It happens unconsciously and very little is needed to use mirroring as a tool to influence the way somebody else perceives you. Because of this, it is one of the first manipulation tools used by manipulators.


One can imitate the various behavior of another person. It can be the words they use, the way they move their hands, the same tonality and even wearing the same style of clothing. For example, imagine somebody speaks slowly and with a deep voice. Shortly after starting a conversation with this person, you change the tone as well to match the way he speaks. That is pretty much it. There is nothing else when it comes to mirroring techniques. It is extremely simple, yet super effective.


Often the people who try to use mirroring for influencing others fail to do so. The reason is the misunderstanding of what actually is needed to be successful with it. There is a thin line between making somebody trust you and coming out as a weirdo. Some not very bright salespeople or ambitious, but naive businessmen use it aggressively against their targets and only hurt their reputation. At first, it might seem they are doing it all right. They copy the body language of others, use the same words, match the tonality, etc. Although they do it so obviously, it is difficult not to notice that their behavior is simply strange.


There are others, however, who use it flawlessly. They are so good that chances are you haven’t noticed how easily you got influenced by the mirroring technique. To be able to detect them, you need to know why and how exactly the method works.


Why does it work exactly?


You’ve heard ‘Monkey see, monkey do’. This is how humans learn and develop at an early age. Mirroring is part of our species. It is something that we do since we are tiny little creatures, unable to survive without others. Throughout history, we survived by sticking together. We are social animals and love to belong to the groups with others. Not everybody is likable, however. Thus we love to pick based on certain criteria. One such criterion is the similarity. We love the people that are similar to us and we unconsciously develop trust towards them as soon as we get certain cues that make us like them. Mirroring uses this trait of ours to copy the behavior of and present it back to them.


Mirroring in details


Before you start copying things, you need to detect them. That’s why the mirroring technique always starts with the observation. If you have enough time, spend the first few minutes observing and analyzing the person.


Few things you can observe to mirror later:

  • Voice – is it loud? deep? Any distinctive trait? Try to detect the accent, but never try to copy it unless you want to seem like a douche.
  • Hand movement – How do they use their hands while speaking?
  • Posture – Observe their shoulders, the way they have their legs spread, etc.
  • The speed of their talking – Do they speak slowly or fast?
  • Small unique behavior such as nodding or eye movement – if you notice it, casually copy it. Avoid copying something very unique to a person such as tweaking.
  • Language – is it casual? formal? Avoid copying very distinctive words. Otherwise, you risk getting detected.

It is important to start using the mirroring technique slowly. Try to copy only one thing at first before doing multiple things. Make sure you practice observation first. Only after becoming good at it you can start mirroring.

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