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Want More Connection in Coaching Relationships? You Need This Key in Your Pocket!

Transcript from the Christian Life Coach Collective Podcast:

Episode #7

Hello, my friends, I hope that the sun is shining where you are today. It is finally shining here and It is not going to rain today. I don't think it got down to 30 last night and since it's almost the middle of April, I just believe that the sun should be shining and we should never be back to 30 degrees! But I don't know what's going on around here. I hope it's sunny where you are today. I hope that you have a beautiful spring day and week and you enjoy it to the greatest, because you know how it goes with spring it's here and then suddenly it's summer and we're all complaining again.

I wanted to talk to you today about something called mirroring. Maybe you are familiar with this term, maybe not, but I was talking to the Lord yesterday while I was in this new place and I was just wondering, like, why don't I feel connected or interested here? He just showed me that I was truly just looking for myself while I was there. I was hoping to find myself reflected in that place and it was. I mean, He got straight to the heart of it. It was so true, which is interesting because I'm usually the kind of person who wonders how can I meet others where they are. But in this moment and this place, I had only thoughts of is there somebody here who's going to meet me where I'm at? I sat with the Lord about it.

Well, He and I started talking about mirroring because I'm familiar with that. I understood that's what I was trying to look for. I was looking to find myself reflected in that place and because I was so not reflected, I did not feel reflected. I didn't feel mirrored. I didn't see anybody like me and I don't just mean looking like me, it's seeing people who reflect my energy and my interest and things like that.

I was looking for it and because I wasn't finding it, I felt completely disconnected and disinterested in what was going on around me and because it was so interesting to me, I gave it a lot of focus and spent a lot of time talking to Lord about it. I was wondering what is going on here? I felt like He was sharing something with me that was not just personal but also something to share with you because He said to me the only true mirror that will always help and never harm is His Word. Jesus is the Word as talked about in John one. So I spent the rest of my time considering how to renew my mind and change my paradigm and therefore my need to live from the Truth. To know that His Word is my true mirror and that all other mirrors are shadowy and dark at best, foggy, but broken in most cases. 

When we read something, we read because we want to see part of us in what we read to some degree. And when we listen to something, we want, we listen because we want to get something out of it that connects to what's already inside of us. So mirroring is a desire within our human nature, wise, you know because it causes connections. The brain sees something outside of us that's already inside of us and believes there's a connection between the two whether there is a connection or not. Once the brain decides there's a connection, there truly is one.

               Mirroring is valuable in relationships, not to mention client relationships.

I want to share with you some ways that you can pursue connection and understanding with your clients. They're really simple and easy to do once you're aware of them, and I encourage you to practice this outside of your coaching because it's going to make it more second nature for you and help you operate without thinking about doing these things. All of these things apply whether you're coaching people who are across a table from you or on Zoom, and even if you're just on a phone call and there's no visible connection between the two of you. 

Mirroring helps to build connection and understanding. It helps to validate people and helps them know that you're interested. It shows that you're present and you're paying attention, and it helps you to gain a right to speak into their lives when you have no connection with them. Think about it for yourself. When somebody gives you feedback whether it's constructive criticism or it is wonderful feedback and it feels really good, no matter what if that person has no connection to you, then how much do you feel like they have a right to speak into your life? It goes this way too. Mirroring is a way to create a connection inside of a relationship so that people are more quickly connected to you and believe that you have permission to speak into their lives and as their coach, this is important. So let's get into this.

                                 There are three areas of mirroring. 

1. Your presence. This looks like matching your posture and your physical body to theirs. That means if they lean back, then you lean back. If they sit forward, you sit forward. If they get comfortable, you go ahead and take the same stance and maybe they're crossing their legs. You don't have to cross your legs to exactly mirror them, but you can cross your legs. This is obvious if you're face to face. This matters more If they talk with their hands.Go ahead and talk with your hands a little bit, even if it's not natural for you. You can just put your hand up here and there. 

I talk with my hands. Right now I'm talking. Nobody's looking at me. I'm talking to you over a microphone and I'm still talking with my hands. I try to not talk with my hands so much when people in front of me are not talking with their hands. If it's important to me, then I'm going to be able to talk with my hands. Basically, you are matching and mirroring their posture and physical expressions or mannerisms and body language. 

2. Your speech  This would look like speaking at the same speed as they do. If they are talking really really fast you can talk a little bit faster. If they are talking very quickly or very excitedly, with a lot of emotion, or if they are really upset you can help bring them back and de-escalate that by meeting them where they are at first and slowly, without their absolute recognition generally, you slow down the pace of your speech and they'll meet you and you bring it down a little bit more and they come down with you until you are at a more equal speech and speaking tone and speed. Once you learn how to do this, you can help bring yourself to meet your clients where they can best process.

Sometimes I talk faster than other people. Being aware of that is helpful because then if you know that you talk too quickly for some people, you can start practicing slowing down a little bit. It has a lot to do with my energy for me. I am very highly energized by being around people, so I'm at home a lot with my husband and my children so I might talk more regulated and even slower. Sometimes, especially if I'm thinking through processes, like I often do while I'm podcasting, I'm considering what I'm going to say next. So I'll slow down a little bit because I'm preparing ahead what I'm going to say. But if I am surrounded by a lot of people, I talk a lot faster because I pick up on the energy in the room and of the other people and it energizes me. I start talking faster and I have to learn how to regulate that.

If I'm meeting somebody, a client, in a physical space, say at a coffee shop, and that coffee shop has a lot of people in it, I have to moderate myself. I have to be mindful that I am talking faster, more likely because of the energy that I'm experiencing in the room. If my client is a slower speaker or even just regulated then I  have to be aware of my energy and where I am on a normal basis. That comes to all of this being aware of your body language and speech, the speed at which you talk, all of those things. Being aware of yourself first is how you learn where to moderate, and then practicing this outside of coaching is important. So just try it with relationships that you have so that it can help you be more second nature about it.

When you speak at a different pace, there's this disconnect as opposed to connection. My dad speaks slowly and so to stay connected in a conversation with him, I bring it down and I don't talk quickly while I'm on the phone. I don't even talk at a balanced tempo, I slow down. I've learned to do that because I want to connect with my dad and in a conversation it's an important place to meet people. 

You also can learn to speak as loudly or as softly as they do, because matching your volume again, like I said, can help bring them back to a balanced volume, just the same thing as the speed. If they are talking softly, then you can meet them where they're at and gradually increase your volume to help bring them back to a place of speaking at a level of volume that is easily heard by you, especially if you're maybe on a Zoom call with a client and you're recording it so you can come back and listen to it and make notes and refresh your memory as you're creating homework or notes for them. You want them to be able to be heard and you can help do that. It's the same thing as meeting them when they're speaking very loudly and helping to de-escalate that and bring everybody back to neutral.

A lot of quiet or shy people begin to speak up a little bit more and get louder as you bring them back to neutral and the loud people can kind of calm down and relax so that they can hear you better. You also can learn how to match your voice to theirs. You know if they're speaking high or low pitched. You can meet them there. 

3. Your words. You can pay attention to the types of words that they speak and let's just say their grammar. If you talk kind of high and I don't know the nice word to say, if you just get fancy about the kind of language that you speak, but your client does not, they, don't find themselves there. It's probably important for you to bring some of those high-intelligence words and those four or five-syllable words and the things that you learned off of Wordly or other places. Bring those down to a level that matches your client.

But, on the other end, if you're talking to them like you're very casual and acting like you are quaint tenses and you've known each other, for a very long time and they are expecting you to be more professional, you need to up your game and you need to go the opposite direction. 

You need to be able to see where somebody is and go meet them there to create the connection and understanding that you want in your coaching relationship. This is why I suggest to everybody that you wait tables at some point in your life. This helps you. I hope you do this. If you meet their level of emotion, joy, excitement, stress, anxiety, grief, and anger help them you can help moderate this by meeting them where they're at and helping to bring them back to neutral, but you have to go to where they are. Instead of saying let's calm down a little bit, why don't you try meeting them where they are, in their anger or their stress or their sadness or their excitement, and gradually practicing and how to bring them back to neutral so that the two of you are on a more even playing field.

The other thing I'm going to be serious about is people's accents. I used to be told as a waitress at every table I would go to would say you sound like you're from Texas, or you sound like you're from California, or say, wherever. I was from Kansas City and had no accent, in contrast to other parts of other regions of the country, but every person that I talked to I would pick up that accent. So if I was at a table with six businessmen from Texas having dinner, then I would pick up their accent and start talking like them and they would want to know what part of the state of Texas I was from. So if I was talking to anybody from the Northeast or New York or Boston, I would pick up their accent.

I've heard it said that musical people pick up accents easily and may not even notice it. I have met people who are not musical, who can still do it. But it does tend to happen with a lot of musical people. You just need to be aware of this because you don't want anybody to be offended or feel that you're making fun of them. You can even bring it up if you notice that it happens often with you and just say when I'm around you, I tend to pick up your accent. I like your accent, so please know that I'm not trying to mock you by emulating what I hear, but it's just something I do naturally, I don't even recognize it. I hope it doesn't bother you. Please let me know if it does. You just don't want anybody, especially if they have a non-American accent to be offended because of differences of cultural beliefs and understanding. You don't want anybody to think that you're making fun of or trying to act like them. So being upfront about it, if you notice that this is something that you do, is important.

I think in a client relationship, the next thing besides presence and speech are the words that they're using. So we already talked about the level of the grammar that they use. Don't be too casual when people are expecting you to be professional and don't be too high and mighty with people who are thinking you need to come down a little bit for me to understand what you're saying. That goes not just for their grammar, but the kind of stories that they tell and the things that they say about themselves. Meet them where they're at and don't position yourself with the kinds of things that you say in a place that would make them uncomfortable when you first get on the call and you're just exchanging two or three minutes of pleasantries. Don't talk about your trip to Paris last week if they are struggling financially. Don't talk about your anniversary trip if they are recently divorced or widowed. 

Mirroring is all about being respectful of where your client is and helping them know that you're willing to come to where they are. You're willing to meet them in the middle and then you walk with them to another place so that again it's not about you. They're coming to you for them. Make sure that you're doing that in all manners of your client relationship.

It's going back to the words. Use the words that they use. Yesterday I started to tell my husband what I felt like, and I  stopped myself and said that is not a feeling, I don't feel things, I think things. These are very different things to me. I said no, here's what it is. I think that and I restated it because I understand now, that he feels before he thinks. I think before I ever feel.

When you hear your client say I feel like this happened and I feel this way about it and I feel like… I want to then use that word, use the kinds of words and language that they use. If they say I think that and I know of that, then mirror those words. If you do this, then it helps them know that you are understanding what's coming from the inside behind what they're saying. It helps a client believe that you know their heart, regardless of just the words that are coming out.

If they continually use certain words, use them, certain lingo, and language that you're unfamiliar with then maybe practice using certain terms outside of your meetings so that you're more comfortable with using them while you're in the meeting. Now what I would say is don't go so far that you put yourself in an awkward position. My son is 28 and he often would use the word sick but not mean sickness. He would mean that something was awesome, but he would use the word “sick”. If I have a younger client who says something is sick and then I say that, they're going to laugh at me. This is not going to build a connection. This is going to put me in the negative. So be careful that you're not trying to be unauthentic by meeting them where they're at in a way that reveals the differences between the two of you instead of creating a connection. You can probably get yourself into trouble there, especially if you don't even know what they're trying to mean when they use certain words.

Don't be afraid of asking questions. When you say that, what do you mean by that? I'm unclear. Is this a new way of using that word? I remember when I was a teenager, or I guess, when I was in elementary school, I would come home and tell my mom something was cool that was new to her because I was using it. In the same way, my son would say sick, and she would say it's cold?  And I would say no, it's cool, mom, like it's good, it's neat. But we don't say neat anymore and she's like, why can't you just say it's neat? Neat is so boring, it's cool, and she would make fun every time I would say it.

Anyway, let's just recap here. You want to build connections with your clients and in other relationships. This can be used everywhere by mirroring, which essentially just means matching their physical presence, and their energy. If they come in extremely excited, pick your energy up and go meet them where they're at. Don't say  “It's such a great day” when they get on the Zoom call and you can see that they're disappointed or feeling a little bit hopeless about where they're going. It's your responsibility as the coach to meet your clients where they are, it's not the other way around.

One, you want to help with matching the presence, physically and energetically. You want to match speech and speak at the same speed, tempo, volume, and sound of their voice, and then you also want to use words that they use and then language and grammar and restate things to them. Come back around, and remind them of what they said. It helps them believe that you have heard what they said and helps explain. For example, you could say “What I heard you say is” it's really helpful in building trust and helping them know that you're understanding them, that they can trust you in the direction that you're going to take them, because they know you know where they are.

If your clients want you to walk with them to point B but they don't necessarily believe you understand where they are at point A, is it going to be difficult to get them to want to take the steps to point B with you. 

Anyway, friend, I hope this is helpful and I bless you to experience sun and light and hope today. I hope that spring is coming into your life in more ways than one. And just to end, I bless you, your calling, and your coaching. 

***VIParts of this episode to refer to:

Presence- mirror physical energy and mannerisms

Speech- mirror volume, pitch, and speed

Words- mirror language and grammar


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