Beware of manipulation: Intentional mirroring in conversations

How to protect yourself from being manipulated

Intentional mirroring in conversations


Intentional mirroring is the deliberate imitation of other people to make them feel good. It serves to promote rapport and can also be used against the interests of the mirrored.


The language is given to man to hide his thoughts.

Charles Maurice de Talleyrand

Birds of a feather flock together


Surprisingly fast, some people are likable, without it being really clear why. In the presence of such people, we simply feel comfortable, so we seek their presence. In a shorter time than normal, we gain confidence. But it can be, that we deceive ourselves badly. Perhaps it is due to appropriate techniques, such as deliberate mirroring.

When people are of the same mind, they show similar posture, and similar gestures and their behavior also resembles each other amazingly.

Intentional mirroring is the deliberate imitation of other people to make them feel comfortable. It is used to promote rapport and can be used in the interests of the mirrored and also against their interests. It is therefore a technique with the intention of manipulation. Some contemporaries use this circumstance for it also, in order to deceive other humans, to manipulate and exploit. They study and copy the peculiarities, such as the language, opinions, and body language, to mirror the behavior. Speech rate, gestures, body position, facial expressions, volume, or breathing are mirrored and in this way they make their victims feel comfortable. They are then easier to influence.







In Neurolinguistic Programming, mirroring is called pacing. This technique is basically quite simple, and after it is taught in basic training, conversational partners are mimicked for practice. For it to work, the application must be quite subtle. In the zeal and lack of sensitivity, however, many interlocutors are so obviously mirrored that they feel aped and made fun of. Then it has exactly the opposite effect, generates aggression, and leads to the deterioration or even the termination of communication.







These techniques can also be used to ensure that sufficient rapport is fostered despite difficult initial conditions, thus enabling positive developments. It is, like with all tools, a double-edged sword. Opportunities and risks are close together. Without moral aptitude, the best technique degenerates into something bad.




It is also a natural phenomenon


In body language, this is referred to as “mirroring”; in English, it is called “mirroring”. The unconscious variant is a natural behavior of people. People who are close and familiar with each other do it all by themselves.

Do you want to expand your knowledge and skills?


If you want to expand your knowledge and skills, come to my training, and I’ll show you how to identify, ward off and even use advanced manipulation techniques yourself. I recommend 2 to 5 hours for this worthwhile topic.

Preparation of important conversations and negotiations


Communication can be very easy. But often it is not. Sometimes we say things and then later notice from the reaction of our conversation partners that they seem to have spoken to someone completely different. I didn't say that with the best will in the world. - Or did I say that after all?

More or less consciously, conversations are about convincing other people of something - be it a special offer, your personality, a perspective, or a necessity. If this doesn't happen fast enough and above all not exactly to the point and descriptively, the person we are talking to quickly loses interest, and we lose the hoped-for opportunity. — Conversation failed.

You can let me support you in the preparation of your conversations and negotiations (to be on the safe side: no legal advice!). Find out how you and your message are perceived (arguments, body language, language, voice, and much more). I will familiarize you with effective tools and communication strategies. Develop your psychological skills, learn to stay calm, act confidently, remain authentic, and finally convince.

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Have you already become acquainted with this technique of intentional mirroring? Up to what point do you find its use legitimate and where does it become unethical?


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This article is a short excerpt from the more comprehensive course materials my clients receive in group or individual training or coaching.

Published: June 20, 2016
Author: Karsten Noack
Revision: October 6, 2021
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German version:
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