Apr 02, 2021

Be a mirror

I’m currently reading Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss. It is a book on negotiation by an FBI hostage negotiator.

The second chapter discusses an unusual tactic for extracting information and forming rapport known as mirroring. Although it can be used when negotiating, it is also supposed to be useful to just generally make others trust and feel connected to you.

Here’s how a mirror works: actively listen to the person you are speaking with and when they finish a statement, repeat back to them the last few words they said to you as a question. 

For example, if you say the, “the weather is bad today,” I might then respond with, “The weather is bad?” to mirror you. Sounds weird, right? But I tried this out a little bit with someone today and they didn’t seem to pick up on the fact that I was just repeating their words back to them, although I’m not sure if it made them feel like I was listening more intently.

There’s a little more to it than just words; here’s some more steps on how to use this technique from the book:

  1. Use a late-night FM DJ voice (tone is important)
  2. Start with “I’m sorry…”
  3. Mirror.
  4. Silence. At least four seconds, to let the mirror work its magic on your counterpart.
  5. Repeat.

It seems odd and feels awkward but I’m going to try this out a bit more to see how people respond to it.