In our most recent mastermind session, Dr. Smith was searching for the right words to describe her clinical niche. She explained her ideal client profile, I listened, and then mirrored back what I heard her say. She said, “Hold up, I need to write that down – that’s it.”
When it was my turn, I spoke about an irrational fear I have that Motivo is going to suddenly fail any day now. Dr. Smith helped me put words to this. She called it “impending doom” – the fear that I’m going to royally screw up this whole startup thing and die a total failure (sometimes, I overreact a bit).
When Dr. Smith said, “impending doom,” I said, “That’s it! That’s exactly what it feels like.” I could feel the feeling, but I couldn’t describe the feeling. I needed someone else to mirror it back to me.
Most of you will remember the concept of mirroring from grad school. As this article explains, mirroring takes empathy a step further by reflecting the client’s words back to them, while “leaving out personal reflections, interpretations, and judgments.”
To me, the power of mirroring lies in allowing the other person to uncover the solution to their own problems. I didn’t give Dr. Smith the words for her ideal client profile, I simply reflected back what I heard her say to me.
And Dr. Smith didn’t solve the problem of my feelings of impending doom, or tell me about her own experiences with this same feeling – rather she simply provided me with a mirroring of my thoughts and feelings.
Gah, isn’t it true that the simplest techniques are often the most powerful?
I’m curious how you use mirroring with others? And who you have in your life to mirror things back to you?
Pretty cool how we can utilize our professional tools to have such an impact on our own life? I mean, I’ll be paying off student loans till I’m 87, but at least I’ll be a really, really emotionally intelligent 87-year-old.