All of Gabriel Conroy's Comments + Replies

The "cargo cult" aspect of repeating back information reminds me of advice I used to read in "how to date" books back when I was on the dating market (and didn't really know the first thing about dating.). Those books often talked about "mirroring" behavior. Supposedly, when two people are into each other, they (sometimes? most of the time?) start to mirror each other's behavior. The books' advice tended to be: if you're into someone, you should start mirroring her behavior (I say "her" because the books I read were generally geared to straight men). On the other hand, maybe "mirroring" is a dynamic that develops from mutual attraction.

The term mirroring comes from NLP and is a sign of rapport that was observed to happen in therapeutic interactions. Decades later psychologists discovered the same dynamic and called it psychological mimicry. A lot of the pickup people used to read a lot of NLP and tried to apply it. You are likely cargo-culting the books if that's what you take away. Most of that literature does discuss issues around pacing and leading. It's still questionable whether that's a good idea for dating but it's more complex then just "mirror the other person".
Mirroring is actually a normal side-effect of empathic connection, in an interaction that's going well. When I was a teenager doing telephone technical support, I one day noticed that I was unconsciously changing my speech accent, pacing, and vocabulary to resemble that of the people I spoke with (who were from many different parts of the country). This happens to me all the time when I get involved in an interaction with someone, but doesn't have anything to do with attraction as such. I mean, if somebody was a jerk, then I certainly didn't find myself mirroring in this fashion, but if the interaction was at all positive, then it tended to happen. I have seen lots of stuff talking about trying to deliberately generate rapport via mirroring, but in my experience any literal and direct mirroring has always been something that was the effect of the rapport, rather than being a way of causing it. In my experience, if one must mirror deliberately, it's much better to simply mirror pacing and rhythm, not specific actions. For example, in BDSM, timing one's whip strokes or other actions based on your partner's breathing or writhing is a much better use of mirroring than just directly copying their movements or breathing. (If you think of an interaction between two people as being a series of disturbances in a medium sending out waves towards each other, it becomes easy to see why interaction on unsynchronized wavelengths creates a disruptive experience, but synchronized ones build in intensity as both parties' responses are cresting or peaking together.) Outside of such specialized uses of mirroring, though, it's more useful as a tool to do two things: 1. Observing someone well enough to follow their rhythm keeps you out of your own head 2. Noticing how your own rhythm is or isn't naturally following theirs helps you notice in real time how well the interaction is actually going. Copying their every motion doesn't really improve on these things, at least in