Negotiation Strategies 101:
The Powerful Negotiation Technique of Mirroring
If you’re on the hunt for a new negotiation technique that will help you get a tactical advantage that is also easy to remember and operate, then look no further, everything you’re looking for can be found in Mirroring.
I first learned about this strategy from the negotiation master that is Chris Voss, former FBI lead international kidnapping negotiator Chris is has experienced more than his fair share of crafty, tough and unhinged hostage takers.
If you want to read a negotiation book that will leave you will an armoury filled with valuable negotiation techniques, influence creating strategies and generally upskill in the area of negotiations I would recommend picking up a copy of Never Split The Difference by Chris Voss. This is where I learned these techniques and who I credit for teaching me the power of mirroring.
What is Mirroring?
When you’re mirroring it means you’re repeating the exact last few words of a sentence back to the other person, word for word. Only a few words mind you, 1-5 words is sufficient.
How does Mirroring work?
For example, “I don’t want to go lower on price” could be mirrored as “go lower on price?” (upward intonation so it sounds like a question and gets the other side to continue talking or explain their rational, either way they’re talking, and you are information gathering) or “price” (said in a low deep voice, this way they feel heard, reassured that you’re listening and decrease their perception that you are a threat.)
Why is it so powerful?
The way mirroring works and the reason it is so effective is you let the other person solve their own problems and by repeating by to them their own words you uncover more information and show them that they have been heard.
This is a powerful technique because it reduces any tendency to see you as a threat which is highly valuable in any negotiation. When negotiating, as you’re mirroring you’re carefully making yourself and the situation more flexible and the other side more open.
Mirroring the last few words back to the other side coaxes them into continuing speaking, they may even not realise that you’re doing it and as a result feel more inclined to reveal information or soften their negotiation stance because they feel heard by you.
If you want to find out more information about mirroring I encourage you to read up on this article Chris did for Forbes or grab a copy of his book, it is highly valuable read and should be a staple on any negotiators bookshelf.