In part two of our facilitation techniques series, we’ll practice mirroring: what it is and when to use it for effective facilitation.
What is Mirroring?
Mirroring is a facilitation technique in which the facilitator repeats word for word exactly what the person says.
When To Use Mirroring
Mirroring is useful when it’s crucial for the facilitator to establish neutrality and remain objective while helping a team navigate conflict or make a decision.
In this scenario, a team has been given the budget for a new coffeemaker in the break room. They’ve asked Sam, a scrum master from another team, to step in as a neutral party to help them decide what to buy. During the discussion, things got contentious and Sam noticed that they sympathized with one side of the argument more than the other. Sam will use mirroring to re-establish their own neutrality.
Gaia: I’m open to anything as long as it’s not a Keurig. I hate those pods. They taste like mud.
Sam: So you’re open to anything as long as it’s not a Keurig. You hate the pods. They taste like mud.
Beatriz: Keurigs save so much time. You just pop in the pod, grab your cup, and then go back to coding.
Sam: You’re saying that Keurigs save so much time. That you just pop in the pod, grab your cup, and then go back to coding.
Sam took care to use each person’s exact words to “mirror” them back to the person. Sam then sought confirmation that they captured their words accurately.
The Agile Learning Labs Players Demonstrate Mirroring
Form groups of two to four people. One person will take the role of facilitator, the others will be speakers. Each speaker will take a turn that follows this pattern:
- The speaker will give an opinion on a contentious topic, for example why Star Trek is superior to Star Wars.
- The facilitator repeats the speaker’s exact words, something like this:
“You believe <speaker’s words here>.”
“What I heard was <speaker’s words here>.”
- The speaker then provides feedback to indicate how well the facilitator repeated their idea, and how they felt being mirrored.
Rotate roles to allow everyone to practice as facilitator.