“Life is your mirror
What you see as your outside
Always comes from your inside.”
There is a term in psychology that is not utilized or alluded to as often as some other terms and elements. Nevertheless, everyone does it at some point, either conciously or unconciously (in all probability, more the latter than the former). Chances are that you’ve done it at some point as well.
It’s called mirroring.
Mirroring is the act of imitating certain traits and gestures of the people around us, especially when we’re in communicating with them. For example, if you go for a job interview and your interviewer makes it a point to sit up straight in his or her chair, you might do the same without even realizing it, just to build a rapport you don’t even know you’re building. Similarly, you might be at a party and laugh a certain way that everyone else is doing.
Many psychologists say that if done in a subtle manner that never progresses to down right imitation or mockery, mirroring can be highly advantageous. Then again, there are also motivational speakers, life coaches and self-help gurus who condone the idea of being yourself.
Can the two philosophies coexist? In my opinion, yes.
Because mirroring is largely on an unconcious level, it need not interfere with your overall identity and personality. You can conduct yourself in a manner befitting the company you’re in and still not lose your individuality.
In fact, even though the official term is mirroring, I like to think of it more as an acclimation. We all follow dresscodes. We all follow rules and regulations in a particular environment. Mirroring is merely just a small extension of that.
Besides making a good impression, there are other advantages to mirroring as well. It allows you to be more empathetic and see things from a different perspective.
So how does one make sure that we don’t over do it? How do we make sure that mirroring doesn’t become just a facade to hide our real demeanor? There are two specific tips for that:
- Never be conscious of it. Don’t go into a job interview analyzing how you’ll mimic the interviewer. Be natural and organic.
- When stepping out of the environment, whether that’s an interview or a shindig or any other social gathering, analyze yourself. Are you still walking in a different manner or carrying a facial expression that you normally don’t have? If so, you’ve overdone it and need to make a strategic effort to be yourself again. Because mirroring is done unconsciously, it never carries over outside of the environment. If it does, that’s something to be analyzed.
Mirroring on a subtle level can be beneficial. But never in a predominant way.
How do you feel about mirroring? Do you think you do it? If so, do you agree with the tips above? Share your thoughts and experiences by commenting below.