Mirroring is a very useful behavioral technique that involves copying the motions of someone else in a subtle way. This allows you to influence the other person to some degree, encouraging them to trust you and believe you.
When you mirror someone, they’ll slowly begin to mirror you back, solidifying this dynamic. But how do you know that mirroring is happening? Are they mirroring you? Or are you mirroring them? Who’s the person driving the conversation? Is it you? How can you be sure?
It can all be a bit confusing, but thankfully, psychology has the answers. Better yet, it’s not nearly as complex as you may think.
Here Are 10 Signs Someone Is Mirroring You
They Face You Directly
A disinterested individual will not face you while you speak. They may sit sideways or even distractedly look at their phone or computer while you talk. Even when you have to sit or stand beside each other, someone who is mirroring you will do their best to look at you, angling their body towards you or turning their face towards you.
This action is known as “fronting”. Contrary to popular belief, the word “fronting” does not just refer to act fake or put up a facade, nor is it just a term used for those with dissociative disorders. In this context, fronting refers to the act of facing the front of your body to the other person’s.
If someone fronts you, they are mirroring you because they are giving you their full attention. At that moment, you are the center of all their efforts, and you have their interest completely. You’re free to speak as you will, confident that they will be listening.
They Use The Same Tone
When two people are using very different tones of voice when they speak to each other, it can be quite confusing. After all, tone carries a lot of meaning. A harsh tone against your kind one causes a discrepancy that indicates little to no connection between you.
It’s not very common for huge tone differences to happen – but it’s equally uncommon to have exact tone matches. This is because people naturally speak in different ways, with unique qualities to their preferred manner of speaking. For example, someone may have a tone that is naturally:
If someone is directly copying your exact tone of voice, there’s a good chance that they’re mirroring you. This is especially obvious in those who usually speak in completely different tones otherwise. Try speeding up or slowing down subtly and see if they imitate that shift.
They Make Eye Contact
Eye contact indicates interest, attentiveness, and a desire to connect. It builds a feeling of trust and comradery. If someone is mirroring you, they will likely be making some degree of eye contact – not too little that it’s not obvious, but not too much that it becomes creepy.
Easygoing eye contact shows that someone is relaxed and comfortable around you. They want to hear what you have to say, and chances are that they are engaged enough to be mirroring you already. Eye contact is also great for releasing a hormone called oxytocin, which helps them bond with you, trust you, and boost their positive thinking. (1)
Of course, some individuals never make eye contact. Certain disorders can cause someone to be uncomfortable with direct eye contact at all, so they will always look away from you. In these cases, disregard a lack of eye contact and instead look for other signs of mirroring; there will be plenty!
You Seem To Understand Them Nonverbally
Do you ever just find that you and another person are giving each other nonverbal cues that you both seem to understand? For example, you know instinctively that their nod means they understand and that when they rub their hands together, they’re feeling excited.
But you don’t consciously think of all these things. You’ve noticed this person’s personal cues and tells, and your brain has developed an understanding of them. You likely have some of these cues yourself, like:
- An eyebrow flash
- A specific type of smile
- A hand gesture
- A facial twitch
- A shift in posture
If someone is mirroring you, they may have noticed your cues as well. This means that they may begin to use those cues with you in an effort to better communicate with you. You are able to easily decipher the meaning behind these cues because you do them, allowing you to understand nuance and meaning nonverbally.
They Use The Same Cadence As You
What is cadence? It is the speed of one’s voice. Now, consider your cadence. Do you talk quickly, or slowly, or somewhere in between? And how is the person talking to you speaking?
Someone who is mirroring you will likely try to match your speaking pace, even if it’s unusual for them. It can be tricky to catch this, though, as most people will not speak at an uncomfortable pace even when they are mirroring. The difference can be quite subtle, as a too obvious change can lack genuine honesty.
Again, you can test this the same way you test tone mirroring – by speeding up or slowing down very slightly. If they copy you, then they are mirroring you, whether intentionally or not.
They Nod A Lot When You Talk
Someone nods to show they are listening, that they understand, or that they’re interested. Nodding shows agreement and can make you feel like they’re listening to you – which they are if this is a mirroring gesture.
You may also notice facial expression mimicking when they nod. This type of mirroring can actually invoke more positive empathy between people, so it’s an added bonus that makes the two of you even more connected to each other! (2)
Do note, though, that some nodding can be dismissive. It can be their way of easily providing acknowledgment without really listening to you. Pay attention to where they nod. If they nod while making eye contact at the times when an acknowledgment is most suitable, they are mirroring. If they nod randomly while looking distracted, they aren’t.
They Keep Their Vocal Volume Similar
This is a very similar style of mirroring to the aforementioned cadence. People can speak loudly, softly, or somewhere between these two extremes. If someone is mirroring you, they’re going to copy the volume that you are currently using.
But, just like with cadence, this won’t be a very obvious change. A quiet speaker isn’t going to match your shouting voice – they’ll just make themselves sound a little more discernible. This is because a drastic change in speaking style can stand out a lot, making the mirroring awkward and dishonest-sounding.
Similarly, you can’t expect someone with a booming voice to whisper as quiet as a mouse if your voice is soft and calming. They will, however, when mirroring, take care to speak more gently. They will not overwhelm your voice, allowing both of you to speak on a more equal level.
They Use Affirming Phrases
Affirming phrases indicate that someone is doing more than just mirroring you physically, they’re empathizing with you and mirroring you emotionally. Affirming phrases indicate that they are doing their best to listen and engage with you. Some examples of these phrases are:
- I can really see what you’re saying.
- Great job!
- I like how that sounds.
- Just checking to make sure we’re on the same page.
- I’m trying to understand what you mean.
- I can’t put my finger on what it is.
- That’s a very valid point.
- I can really get why you feel that way.
These types of phrases – if said genuinely, of course, are a positive sign that they are listening to you, validating you, and making sure you feel heard and seen. This is a very crucial part of mirroring. The posture and body language do nothing if you aren’t actually listening. (3)
You Can See Them Copying You
Sometimes, mirroring is very obvious. You might actually be able to see that someone is copying your moves very clearly and easily, even if they aren’t aware of it. Here are some things to look out for:
Are they matching your leaning-forward stance? Are they sitting rigid and upright, or relaxing like they’re lounging? When you change your posture, do they make similar adjustments to theirs?
When this person is speaking to you, do they copy your gestures clearly? Are they suddenly doing a specific hand movement or eyebrow raise than you know you do?
When you yawn, if they yawn too, then they’ve been paying attention to you for a while. It’s just one of those things we humans can’t really control!
When you furrow your brow, do they meet you with a concentrated frown of their own? Do they smile when you do, and often in a similar way to you?
You Catch Yourself Copying Them
If someone is mirroring you, then you could have automatically started mirroring them, too. Pay attention to your actions. Did you reach up to scratch your nose right after they did? Are you automatically using their gestures? Are you standing in almost the exact same way as them?
It can be a little freaky at first to notice that someone is practically pulling you along with them down the rabbit hole of mirroring, but it’s totally natural. It also means that you’re just as interested in the interaction as they are, and that’s always a good sign. So keep up your positive thinking and go with it!
Final Thoughts On Some Signs Someone Is Mirroring You
Mirroring works so well because we, as humans, are naturally drawn to things that are familiar and similar to us. The act of mirroring shows the other person that you are the same, and that you can be trusted. It’s a very useful technique, especially if you’re trying to convince them of something!
Being able to spot the signs of someone mirroring you means you’ll know when you’re influencing them, and also when they may be trying to influence you. It’s an unorthodox life skill, sure – but one that everyone should add to their arsenal, especially if they work with other people all the time!