Pace Pace Mirror Neurons and Leading

 Pace, Pace, Mirror Neurons and Leading

In NLP circles there is a lot of talk about rapport building. NLP books often describe how if you pace a clients actions, breathing and gestures you will build strong rapport with your client and once in rapport, you can lead your clients to follow your actions – they copy your actions, breathing patterns and gestures. Some skeptics say this simply doesn’t work, but new research into mirror neurons may back up this NLP technique.

NLP Mirroring


The idea behind NLP mirroring is to establish rapport and trust quickly. People like and trust others who are like them and if the clients unconscious mind picks up that you have a similar tone, gestures and body language, the individual will have a positive “gut feeling” about you.  The common NLP Mirroring technique is explained below.

  1. While in conversation with a client start to subtly mirror the other person’s physiology, body language, breathing pattern, voice tone and tempo.
  2. Check that you are sitting or standing in the same position, using the same types of gestures and communicating  at a similar speed and volume, using the same tonality as the client.
  3. Test rapport by leading the client, as you change your posture the client due to being in rapport with you, will also change their posture by following unconsciously your lead.

Some people find this technique hard, often due to forcing themselves to mirror the client. But our intelligent brain knows when someone is faking or being dishonest. As an example you may tell a joke and someone will laugh or smile, but deep-down you know that they didn’t find you funny. To mirror someone fully, you need to get into the same head-space as the person you are mirroring, you need to imagine that you are this person. Take on their beliefs and values, don’t just copy their gestures and body language, imagine you are that person and sit comfortably as they would.

Assume their state of mind and pay full attention to them. When they speak don’t use internal thought to think about what you are going to do or copy next, instead give your self up to them, imagine their is no one in the world but this individual and imagine that you are this person. When in full rapport you will unconsciously copy the gestures, breathing and blinking as they do, you will know (be able to unconsciously guess) what they will do next and you will feel as much in rapport with them as they do with you.

Casanova, one of history’s famous seducers would adopt the technique of assuming their state of mind and paying full attention to that person. For Casanova, at the time there was no one else apart from the women he was seducing. The attention he gave them increased rapport and being able to build rapport through mirroring will increase both likeness and trust.


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Does the Finding of Mirror Neurons Give Evidence for the Success of the NLP Mirroring Technique?


Yesterday I sat waiting for  a train, a young women walk passed me and stubbed her toe. While sitting their in relative comfort I immediately flinched in sympathy. When you look a baby and smile the baby will smile back at you, when someone eats something that you know taste disgusting through their expression, you feel the same nasty taste or when someone laughs you want to laugh to even tough you didn’t hear the joke.

Mirror neurons (discovered by scientist in the 1990’s) allow us to feel the emotions someone else feels when completing an action. Researchers have found that when we watch someone carry out a task or see a facial micro expression parts of our own brain fire up as they would if we completed the task ourselves, even though we are only watching the task and not completing the task ourselves.


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 The video below is from Hypnotic Thoughts and explains in detail how mirror neurons work



It is well worth subscribing to this series to learn more about the brain and how hypnosis, nlp and mindfulness work at the neuro level




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 Mirror neurons show us that we understand by feeling not thinking. We feel other peoples emotions so we know their intention, which is why we unconsciously read peoples micro facial expressions, as this allows us to make rapid reactions. By mirroring a client, the client will feel that we are on the same page, as we mirror their facial expressions, gestures, use the words they use,  smile at the same jokes, share the same interest and views. As they constantly evaluate our emotions they will know at an unconscious level that we are trustworthy, someone they could get on with, someone they can relax around and feel safe with.


Chris Delaney NLP Life Coach, Hypnotherapist and Career Advisor is available for booking for One to One Private Sessions, Group Training Sessions and Public Speaking Events


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