1: Getting better at getting better is what RiseWithDrew is all about.

Monday through Thursday, we explore ideas from authors, thought leaders, and exemplary organizations.  On Friday, I share something about myself or what we are working on at PCI.

This week we’ve been exploring ideas and lessons around becoming a better negotiator from Chris Voss, the FBI’s lead hostage negotiator, and his book Never Split the Difference.

One key insight I’ve had is that these lessons not only strengthen our ability to negotiate.  

They also improve our ability to communicate effectively with everyone we interact with.

One of my goals for the year is to have more and better meaningful conversations.  Chris’s tools and insights can definitely be used for these purposes.

2: One of his best practices to connect with others?

Be a mirror.

“Of the entirety of the FBI’s hostage negotiation skill set, mirroring is the closest one to a Jedi mind trick,” Chris writes.  

To mirror, we simply repeat the last three words the other person has said.  Or the one to three of the most important words.

When we do this, our counterpart will typically elaborate on what was just said.  They will maintain the connection.

Mirroring is a neurobehavior humans and other animals use to “copy each other to comfort each other,” Chris explains.  

“It’s generally an unconscious behavior—we are rarely aware of it when it’s happening—but it’s a sign that people are bonding, in sync, and establishing the kind of rapport that leads to trust.  It’s a phenomenon that follows a very basic but profound biological principle: We fear what’s different and are drawn to what’s similar.”

“Trust me,” a mirror communicates to the other person’s unconscious, “You and I–we’re alike.”

Once we are aware of it, Chris predicts we will see it everywhere: “Couples walking on the street with their steps in perfect synchrony; friends in conversation at a park, both nodding their heads and crossing the legs at about the same time.  These people are, in a word, connected.”

We can mirror with body language, vocabulary, tempo, speech patterns, and tone of voice.  

But Chris focuses specifically on the words we use.

Once we mirror, we stay silent and let the other person respond.

The mindset we want to adopt when we mirror is, “Please help me understand.”

3: When we ask someone, “What do you mean by that?” we typically prompt defensiveness.  In contrast, when we mirror, we signal respect and concern for what the other person is saying.  They will respond by rewording what they’ve just said.  But often with greater clarity.  

Chris encourages us to experiment with mirroring, understanding it may feel awkward at first.  

But “that’s the only hard part about it; the technique takes a little practice.  Once we get the hang of it, though, it’ll become the conversational Swiss Army knife valuable in just about every professional and social setting.”

More next week!


Action: Experiment with mirroring what the person we are talking to says.  Repeat back the last three words they say or the one-to-three most important words.  Pause.  Be silent.  

Reflection: Does the other person elaborate and maintain the connection?  How might I utilize this practice to build deeper relationships?

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