Mirroring is one of the most fundemental and basic interpersonal communication skills. This technique almost immediately demonstrates how good or how poor our interpersonal communication skills are and give us the feedback we need to continuously improve them. More importantly mirroring is an essential skill for serious dialog between any two human beings committed to the hard work necessary to develop a true sense of understanding and connection.

Mirroring is very simple.

Step one: Listen to what a person has to say.

Step two: Repeat (mirror) what you heard back in your own words.

Step three: Listen to what a person has to say about your mirroring.

Step four: Repeat.

Here are some important points about mirroring:

Don't assume: Assuming you know what the other person is saying before recieving feedback is not listening.

Don't project: Telling the other person what they think and feel is not listening.

Take Responsibility: Use phrases like, "I heard you say..." or "What I understand you to mean is..." This will help you separate your reality from what they're trying to convey and is your way of taking responsibility for your own perceptions.

Use Examples: Instead of simply translating what you heard into your own words use examples or quote the other person to describe why you came to a certain understanding. For instance you might say, "It sounds like you're frustrated because you said..."

Accept the Feedback You Get: Honest mirroring is tough and you'll often discover that no matter how well you thought you listened to people that your perception is often off track. Be big enough to accept the feedback you get, listen, and respond, until you are able to accurately mirror the person you're communicating with.

They're Always Right: This is a tough one for some people but it's par for the course, the person you're mirroring is always right. They know what they think, what they feel, and what they perceive, and even if they're completely schizophrenic their view of the universe is valid to them. If they don't believe you're accurately mirroring their experience then you probably haven't; look at this as an opportunity to hone your listening skills.