Successful people know how to mirror. They mirror consciously. They mirror well.
The power of mirroring has been keenly on my mind in the aftermath of the Parkland shootings in Florida. I was touched by the extravagant range of human and activist responses, and I found myself remembering a response to the Pulse nightclub attack in Orlando, two years back, that had richly moved me. It is a sublime tale of mirroring. It took place on a JetBlue flight that carried the grandmother of Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, one of the club-goers that got killed in the shootings, to Orlando to attend Luis’ funeral.
In a Facebook POST, Kelly Davis Karas described how she and fellow flight attendant Melinda had the idea to pass around a piece of paper to everyone on board and invite them to sign it for this grieving grandmother. Well, people couldn’t stop writing, and soon Kelly and Melinda ended up handing out more and more pieces of paper.
When we gathered them together to present them to her, Kelly wrote, we didn’t have just a sheet of paper covered in names, which is what I had envisioned. Instead, we had page after page after page after page of long messages offering condolences, peace, love and support. There were even a couple of cash donations, and more than a few tears.
And instead of the usual mad dash to get off the plane, this is what unfolded.
As we deplaned, EVERY SINGLE PERSON STOPPED TO OFFER HER THEIR CONDOLENCES. Some just said they were sorry, some touched her hand, some hugged her, some cried with her. But every single person stopped to speak to her, and not a single person was impatient at the slower deplaning process.
Extraordinary circumstances, yes. Mirroring behaviors spread like wildfire. And a deeper collective consciousness was tapped.
This same consciousness gets tapped when we mirror behavior in ordinary, everyday circumstances. At work, at home. We don’t mirror the petty, the angry, the small-minded. We mirror the best in the other person. We mirror it consciously, and in the act of doing so, we elevate our personal impact. Here’s what everyday mirroring looks like:
- I mirror your energy. I pick up on your speech pattern, your physical expressiveness, your body rhythm, the spirit with which you show up. I choose to do this not to mimic you but to get in synch with this energy, and in the act of “synching up” with you, I get in synch with your unspoken dreams and aspirations, and in turn, my own. Yes, it runs that deep.
- I mirror your words. By using the same words you use, or words with similar meaning, words that expand the resonance of your linguistic choices, I foster a rich intellectual and emotional connection between us. I explicitly demonstrate that I am listening to you, and we literally start to “speak the same language.”
- I mirror your intent. Even when your words are bumbling and maybe not quite precise, I intuit the intent behind the words you speak. And when this intent is pure, I choose to respond with the same intent. Instead of being distracted by a perhaps clumsy delivery on your part, I decide to connect with your richer, deeper purpose. I meet you there.
- I mirror your higher self. On a day when you behave like a jerk and irritate the heck out of me, I remember who you are when you’re at your best. Instead of mirroring the jerk for you, I mirror your highest self. I uplift you AND me with my choice. I take us both to higher ground.
Related: The Importance of Going OFF-Grid
Tragic events jolt us back into the knowledge that at the core, you and I are never separate from each other. That’s the power of intentional mirroring. When I consciously mirror the best part of you, I help both of us to remember how connected we truly are.
Success is inevitable.
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