Mirroring is a fundamental skill in the Imago dialogue process. In this article, I will explore the why’s and wherefores of mirroring and I hope to give you some insight to its importance in the process. If you have marriage counselling with me then you will have heard much of this before in the session, if not I hope the post helps!
When you are the receiver in the couple’s dialogue process your role is to mirror back what you have just heard your partner say. The mirror is important because it makes sure that what you heard and what was said are the same. “How could they not be?” I hear you say. Let’s take the following example;
Sender: “I make up in my head that you are interested in another man”
Receiver “So I heard you say that you are accusing me of having an affair”
The receiver put his own spin on what was said by the sender and made the sentence into something that it was not. We do this frequently in conversations with our loved ones, especially if they are becoming heated. The mirror prevents this and encourages us to stay on our partner’s island.
Did I get you?
A better mirror for this sender would be;
Receiver “I hear you say that you make up in your head that I am interested in other men. Did I get you?”
In this example we are staying on our partner’s island and seeing what the world looks like for them. They are different to us. They are separate and they think differently. The last part of the sentence is essential to the process. “Did I get you?” Notice the words. “Did I get you?” means exactly that. It’s more about understanding where your partner is coming from than repeating the words back exactly. It’s asking “am I in tune with you?”
Next we go to the sender. The sender will either confirm “yes, you got me” or resend the parts of the send that were missed “you got most of it; I’d like to resend this bit more clearly….”
It’s important that the sender checks that what was sent was mirrored accurately and corrects it if it was not (in the nicest possible way of course, after all, if you are having someone come visit you on your Island you don’t want to sucker punch them in the guts, they’re unlikely to want to come back if you do!)
Once the send is confirmed as correct then the receiver will ask “is there more?”
Is there more?
Ah those beautiful words! “Is there more?” When you say these words to your partner as the receiver you are asking to be taken further into their world. You are giving them an opportunity to explore their thoughts and feelings about the issue to a deeper level. As the dialogue deepens then the connection between you and your partner does too. You get to find out what it’s like being them and empathise with the thoughts and feelings they are having. This puts the frustration they may be having with you in context.
The next two stages of the process of Imago dialogue are validation and empathy. I will talk about them in the next article in this series. Until then, if you have any questions about the Imago process or any thoughts or observations please get in touch using the comment box below and let’s dialogue about it!