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Is matching and mirroring in NLP manipulation? | NLP World

We are going to have a look at the concept of matching and mirroring in NLP and whether this is manipulation or not?

Have you ever met someone and after 10 minutes of talking felt like you have known the person forever? Are there people you just naturally feel comfortable with and other with who you don’t seem to be able to hit it off? The main difference between these two is called rapport: with the first group you have naturally, with second, well, not at all. Rapport is a feeling of being in-sync with someone else, to be on the same wavelength and consequently to really understand and appreciate someone else and their opinions.

When you look at communication, we are taught to think that the most important are the words we say. Yet, the words, all in all, only form about 7% of the total communication between two people. That’s not really that much, is it? Roughly 38% are determined by how we say the words (voice qualities), and an astounding 55% by non-verbal communication or body language. That means, it is not only important what you say, but how and with what gestures.

The following was taken from a live training, so it’s the spoken word with regards to matching, mirroring and manipulation in NLP rather than grammatically correct writing of a book!

“Some people say, about rapport (matching and mirroring someone’s body language), oh isn’t that manipulating? Isn’t that false, what you’re doing? But it’s the very same thing as if you’re going to go up to a baby, if you meet somebody’s baby for the first time, which will be happening for some people here at a certain period in June (Adam Sprackling), it’ll be a solstice baby. Could be.

If you’re going to go and meet a baby for the first time, you don’t say
“Hello, my name’s Terry Elston, I’m a trainer of NLP. Good to meet you. Are
you having a good time in there? You look like an awefully nice baby. Bye!”
No! You use baby language. “you goo do boo lovely little goo boo joo boo.”

That’s what you do naturally isn’t it? You go into their world, and talk
their language so you can be in rapport with them. It’s a natural thing to
do, it’s not, in my world it’s not about manipulation. It’s about respect
for somebody else’s model of the world. You go over there with them.
So as we’re saying, some babies you might not want to match. If you come
across some like this (funny picture on slide), you may not want to go and match and mirror them.

You might want to avoid them. (joke – Laughter)

The concept of mirroring is you place your body in a position to the other person just like it was a mirror image of them. To the animal brain, the other person feels like you are like them (hence the phrase “I like you”). There is no conflict “we are the same”.

So here’s some important facts.

Mirroring builds rapport fast. By the way you know this already. Some of
you grabbing for your notes… you know this, you’ve just experienced it.
When mirroring,  you must stop mirroring after a few
minutes because mirroring’s very strong, and just use
matching after that. You’ll probably be leading by then anyway.

The concept of matching is the same as mirroring, yet this time you match the other persons body language. if their head is tilted to the left, you tilt your head to the left and so on.

Matching is easier, it takes longer. So if you’re going to copy somebody’s
movements, just wait a few seconds. If they cross their leg, now, I’ve seen
you do this naturally anyway, you guys have got this, okay. I’m only going
to say this as a reminder for the future. So, and as I was watching you do,
if somebody crosses their legs you wait a few seconds and then you cross
your legs. Maybe three to five seconds so it doesn’t look like mimicry. It
does look like something else.

So it doesn’t matter whether you use matching or mirroring?
What do you know about mirroring already, that we’ve already told you?
Without looking up there?
“It’s easier.”

“Yeah and it’s quicker”.

“I find it much easier”.

Right, okay. Yep. So mirroring is quicker, it’s deeper, yeah? And that’s
what you might want to use at the beginning. But then you want to stop
mirroring at a certain point because otherwise they’ll stop thinking for
themselves and they’ll just buy anything you really want if you’re selling

” Can we practice that sometimes?” [laughter]
Okay? But that’s fine, the problem is that if they didn’t want it really,
they’ll come back to you the next day being really pissed off. I didn’t
want this bloody phone. I wanted…
“Then you do it again.”  [laughter]

Then they’ll end up doing you again, probably. Whatever you do comes back.
This is part of another conversation, but whatever you put out there comes
back. So if you want to rip somebody off, you’re going to get ripped off.
It’s just the way it works. That’s the way cycles work.
“They’re your projections.”
So look after them.

Look after your projections, they’re like little babies that you send out
there. If you send out ones that are going to deviate and manipulate,
they’re going to come back in droves.

And the last bit about this, about this rapport section, is this:
In terms of all the techniques we’re going to teach you in NLP, in terms of
the intimate relationships that you’ll be involved with, with all of your
clients and your relationships, you need a foundation stone that’s going to
gain you this trust and gain you time to have a conversation with them.
You are biding time, where you’re going to get lots of facts and figures – you get information about them, you’re going to be reading their body language…

Rapport gives you time, and space, and this kind of agreement together that
you can be together and it’s all right. It’s a foundation of all of the NLP.
So you can even make a lot of mistakes, in rapport it doesn’t matter.
You can say the wrong thing and if you’re in rapport with the body language
it doesn’t matter. That’s why it’s so important. That’s why it’s the

So we’re going to have a look at you during the training, notice if you’re,
when you’re doing exercises, are you in rapport? Is your body posture the
same. Are the feet flat on the ground, or are they lifted up slightly? Are
you matching their breathing as you’re talking?

Okay. And then just a little reminder about that… is that. [laughter]
Because when you’re in rapport, you can get away with anything. As long as
you’re matching and mirroring, you’re fine. No problem at all.
“Actually it does take you a few seconds to realise that.” [laughter]
Yeah, because it’s the same.
Okay, which leads us nicely into the next section, let’s have a quick look…

So that’s the NLP World version of how NLP Works with the notion of matching and mirroring and manipulation – I trust you enjoyed the insights!

For a more in-depth look at matching and mirroring and Rapport in NLP, please look here

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