In NLP we use matching and mirroring to help create rapport. Matching is essentially doing the same thing as the other person, for example if the other person has their legs crossed, we’d cross out legs. Or is their arms were folded, we’d fold our arms. We can even take this as far as breathing in time with the other person, which can be a profound way of creating rapport.
There are some times when matching and mirroring might not be appropriate. For example, if the other person is in a very negative emotional state, or even having a panic attack. In this sort of situation, matching their breathing could even lead to ourselves having a panic attack!
So in this sort of situation, it would be useful to find some other way of creating this deep physiological rapport without putting ourselves in risk.
This is where you can use cross over mirroring. Here we can start to match elements of the other person’s behaviour with different behaviours of ours. So if the person is breathing rapidly, rather than breathing in time with them, we’d pace the rhythm of their breathing by doing something else in time with it. For example, moving our hand up and down in time with their breathing. Or as a friend of mine recently did, rocking their chair in time with the breathing. Once you’ve established rapport, you can then slow down your movement and influence their own behaviour. You could even lead someone out of a negative emotional state without even talking with them, but by pacing and leading their behaviour.
Of course, all this needs to happen out of their conscious awareness – don’t wave your hand around in front of their face! Be subtle and you can produce some really astonishing results – try it out!