2 Easy Techniques For Small Talks

Both techniques seem easy, simple, and super clear at first glance. But in fact, it is precisely these characteristics that make them so natural and elegant when you use them in conversation. Simple is genius!


What is it:

  • repeating words that your conversation partner has just said. Easy, right?

Possible pitfalls:

  • you should identify one to three keywords for mirroring
  • you should NOT use more than five keywords
  • you should NOT mirror the whole sentence
  • you don’t have to mirror the last words (unless they’re the key ones)
  • you must have an inquisitive tone of voice when doing mirroring (your voice and intonation are 50% of the success of the technique)


Your conversation partner: “That was a really difficult release that I had to be responsible for!”
You: “Difficult release?”

After that, your conversation partner will add some additional details.

What does the technique give you:

  • the other person knows they’ve been heard and that you care about their point of view
  • you build a relationship with them
  • you gather information about the other person or their position
  • you reduce the tension and negative emotions of the other person if you are in a conflict situation
  • you practice active listening
  • you can use it in almost any situation (from a networking event or party to interviewing a candidate or business negotiations)


What is it:

  • making verbal observations of the other person’s emotions

Possible pitfalls:

  • you should be aware of the other side’s feelings
  • you should label more than once (labels are cumulative – you may need to use several of them)
  • you should NOT label using “I” statements, because you are giving a signal that your perspective is more important than the other person’s perspective (ex.: “What I’m hearing is…” or, “I think…”)
  • you can use these phrases:
    “It seems like…”
    “It looks like…”
    “You look like…”
    “It feels like…”
    “It sounds like…”

You: “It seems like you disagree with these terms.”
Your conversation partner: “I don’t disagree with the terms. I’m concerned with the resources needed to execute them.”

What does the technique give you:

  • the other person knows you understand their emotions
  • you build a relationship with the other person
  • you gather information about the other person or their opinion
  • you reduce the negative emotions of the other person (scientifically proven that when a person names their negative emotions, a process of reducing the emotions takes place in their brain)
  • you reinforce the positive emotions of the other person (scientifically proven that the exact opposite as a process in their brain happens when the person names the positive emotion)

If you want to be someone people feel comfortable talking to:

  1. Try the techniques.
    Even if they seem strange to you at first.
  2. It is best to use both techniques together!
    1-2 times mirroring, in the beginning, works great followed by several times labeling.
  3. The more you practice them, the more naturally you’ll apply them.
    As is with any new skill.

Some additional sources:
In this short video, Chris Voss explains the Mirroring technique as well as shows how the tone of voice matters in negotiations.

On the YouTube channel of The Black Swan Group you can find useful videos showing both techniques, as well as many more tips and strategies for conducting communication and negotiations.

Regarding the tone and intonation of the voice – you can find absolutely everything on this YouTube channel.

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