IT Leaders Need To Learn How To Mirror The People They Are Talking To

by drjim on November 16, 2017

In order to connect with a person that you are talking to, you have to mirror them

In order to connect with a person that you are talking to, you have to mirror them
Image Credit: Pat Joyce

As an IT manager, we spend a lot of time talking with people. We discuss projects, careers, families and even where we want to go to lunch today. All of this conversation is a critical part of our job. What this means is that we need to find ways to use our IT manager skills make these conversations count – we need to connect.

The Power Of Mirroring

When we are talking with someone, our IT manager training tells us that it turns out that not only are they picking up on the words that we are saying, but also on our body language. In fact, when we have really connected with someone that we are talking to, mirroring starts to happen. What is mirroring you ask? Mirroring is when during a conversation your expressions, gestures, posture, vocal pitch, and even your tone start to match the person that you are talking to. This shows that you have a desire to please the other person.

What’s interesting about mirroring is that most often it happens unconsciously. However, once you know about the power of mirroring, you can use it to create powerful connections with the members of your team. The use of mirroring in a conversation has the formal name of “the chameleon effect”. Using mirroring in a conversation can cause the person that you are talking with to like and trust you more without really knowing why they feel that way.

As IT managers we are often surprised to discover that we are mirroring the team member that we find ourselves deep in discussion with. What researchers have discovered is that when we are mirroring someone, we become “dynamically coupled with them”. When this happens both of our brains start to react and adapt to the signals that we are receiving from the other person. Our brains are the part of our body that have the ability to implement this mirroring ability.

How To Do Mirroring Correctly

If we can agree that mirroring during a conversation with a team member can be a powerful way to create a deep connection, then it sure seems like we should take some time and find out how to mirror. The first thing that you need to realize is that you can’t fake this. If you pretend to be interested in the other person when you are not, they’ll be able to pick up on it. Instead, take the time to build a connection to the other person. Listen to them and try to understand what they are saying.

You can starting off mirroring the other party very simply. The first thing that you are going to want to do is to nod your head when they do. Next, take a look at how they have positioned their head. Tilt your head to match the way that their head is orientated. How they are speaking is also very important. You are going to want to try to match both their vocal tone and how fast they are speaking.

Once you get the simple stuff out of the way, you can start to increase the amount of mirroring that you are doing. Keep in mind that you have to be careful to make sure that the other side never detects that you are mirroring them. If they do, then the effect will be lost. You’ll want to move on to mirroring both their gestures and the way that they are sitting. As you start to behave more and more like they are, they will be drawn into your conversation and a real connection will start to happen.

What All Of This Means For You

The job of being an IT manager requires us to do a number of different things. One of our most important tasks is to have conversations with the members of our team. Lots and lots of conversations. Since this is such a critical part of our job, we’d really like to be able to connect with the members of our team during these conversations. It turns out that we can, if we know how to mirror.

Mirroring is something that happens during a conversation when we deeply connect with the person that we are talking with. Mirroring can happen unconsciously – we may not even be aware that we are doing it. However, we can also use mirroring to create the “chameleon effect” and draw the member of our team that we are talking with deeper into the conversation. When mirroring is happening, our brains become tuned to the other person and we pick up on the signals that they are sending to us. We can make mirroring work for us by building a connection to the person that we are talking with. Then we can start to match their nods and their head position. Finally, we can move on to mirroring both their gestures and their posture.

Since conversations are so very important to how we do our job, having a tool that can make every conversation better is critical. Understanding what mirroring does to a conversation and then how to use mirroring to create a deeper connection with the person that you are talking to is a critical IT manager skill. Use mirroring during your next conversation and you’ll discover just how deep of a connection you can create during a conversation and you just might accomplish some IT team building.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Management Skills™

Question For You: Do you think that there are some conversations where mirroring would be inappropriate?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

As an IT manager, you are responsible for a team of IT professionals. This means that it’s your job to hire the right people, provide them with an overall sense of direction, provide them with specific tasks to accomplish, and to use your IT manager skills to ensure that the work gets done along with some IT team building. Interestingly enough, in order to accomplish all of this, you need to create a personal connection with each member of your team. A big part of this connection is your ability to feel empathy. Do you know how to do this?

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