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Business English: Communicational Techniques

Good communication is absolutely fundamental in all areas of business, even more so when we are negotiating, mediating or resolving conflicts. In these materials we look at the communicational techniques mirroring, labelling and looping and think about how these can help to transform your communicational skills in English.  


Mirroring and labelling


Chris Voss is a former FBI hostage negotiator and the author of the book "Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It." In his book, Voss describes using mirroring and labelling as powerful techniques used in negotiation and more general communication to gather information.


Mirroring involves repeating the last few words of what the other person just said in a questioning tone. This technique helps to build rapport, establish trust, and encourage the other person to continue speaking.

For example, if someone says, "I'm really frustrated with this situation," you might mirror back by saying, "Frustrated with the situation?" This shows that you're listening and encourages the person to elaborate on their feelings. Mirroring can also help to uncover more information and potential solutions during negotiations. By reflecting back what the other person says, you can better understand their perspective and work towards finding a mutually beneficial outcome.

Labelling involves putting a name to the other person's emotions or feelings in a situation. It is a way of acknowledging their perspective and demonstrating empathy. Labelling can help to build rapport and trust, and it can also help to defuse tense situations by acknowledging the other person's emotions.

For example, if someone seems upset or frustrated, you might say something like, "It seems like you're feeling really frustrated right now," or "It sounds like you're feeling unheard and unappreciated." By labelling their emotions, you show that you are paying attention and that you understand their perspective.


According to Chris Voss, labelling sentences would typically start with It seems like…It looks like… or It sounds like…. then would be followed by an expression of emotion; you feel stuck... you are not convinced by this proposal... you've had a bad day... you're worried about something... something is holding you back from making a decision....


The following video provides an excellent demonstration of these techniques being used in action;





Looping in mediation refers to a technique where the mediator repeats or paraphrases what one party says to ensure understanding and clarity. It serves as a powerful communication tool by validating the speaker's perspective and helping all parties involved to grasp the essence of the message.


Looping also encourages active listening and fosters empathy among participants, facilitating constructive dialogue and problem-solving. By looping, the mediator can confirm the accuracy of the information shared, mitigate misunderstandings, and guide the conversation towards mutual understanding and resolution of conflicts.


The following video explains the concept in more detail;



These materials can be downloaded in pdf form here;

Communicational Techniques
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