Optimum You

THE MIRROR TECHNIQUE© – solving those niggles 

We all have problems – some big, some niggles. They all need solving. The Mirror Technique could help.

Good intentions, good exercise, good manners, good stimulation, good companions.  Then not so good. Some bad. Some worse than bad. Some really terrible.

Former Royal Navy Submariner Captain Ryan Ramsey featured in an interesting video highlighting the lessons he learnt after long spells at sea – 268 days without sun with 180 other people in a crowded tube. He listed his Five Lessons Learnt:

◊ Have a routine
◊ Cleaning for health and personal hygiene, plus it is therapeutic
◊ Expect Conflict – know how to deal with it
◊ Enjoy downtime
◊ Communicate with your fellow internees

All very sensible and each of us can both use and adapt them for our circumstances.

How? Let us look at Expecting Conflict and knowing how to deal with it.

Be prepared to confront conflict positively. Firstly, agree with the other person – this is a case of two people having issues – what could ultimately be agreed, what is the least that can be expected to be result on completion of THE MIRROR TECHNIQUE.

By doing this you have closed the gap and achieved some form of agreement.  Result!

Then, move onto THE MIRROR TECHNIQUE. I have developed this over the years when dealing with both domestic and commercial pairs who found themselves in apparently unsolvable conflict.


If you can access an impartial third party, then so much the better. The third-party acts as the referee and balancer.  However, if a third party is not available, the MIRROR TECHNIQUE will still work.

You need two pads of Post It notes – preferably of different colours.

Working separately, each person writes down on their Post Its the following:

‘What they think the other person thinks of them’

For example, Person A writes ‘I think he thinks I am selfish as I used the last of the marmalade yesterday’.  You need a statement plus evidence.

More than likely each person will be able to produce about seven such Post It notes. I have never found anyone able to write any more than that and normally the total is much less.

Once both people have completed their side of the MIRROR, you lay both sets of Post It notes on the table and then examine them.

If you have a third party, that person should sort them into two piles – Pile A – the notes which deal with the same subject and Pile B, notes dealing with singular subjects.

However, it is done you need these two piles.

Then all you do is to interrogate the piles – asking of the writer – ‘Is this what you really think I think of you – why?’

I assure you that you will have an animated discussion. If this does not occur, I suggest you seek professional help.


The Mirror Technique has several advantages:

You have an initial agreement which did not exist beforehand

You are mutually engaged in this technique and thus doing a useful joint activity

Both people get to know what the other person genuinely thinks of them

If you keep the Post It notes they will act as a catalyst for more discussions and prompt positive actions in the future – if you have established the agreed objective(s) in advance.


If you look again at the Nuclear Submariner’s notes you will see that THE MIRROR TECHNIQUE works on all five of his points:

◊ It can become part of a regular Routine
◊ You are Cleaning up the mess – together
◊ It is different from anything else – a welcome change even if not exactly Downtime
◊ It deals with Conflict
◊ It encourages you to Communicate

I recall being the third party with two senior executives who were daggers drawn.  We agreed that the best outcome – at that time – was to reach some form of working acceptance of each other within their professional arenas.  Friendship was asking too much.

We started at 8pm, stopped for a meal – together! – and finished up at about 2am, tired but at last in some sort of agreement.  By the end I was yawning with my mouth shut – always a risky manoeuvre – and they were tolerating longer and longer silences. But we got there. They never became friends, but they established a professional relationship.  Funnily enough their wives got on famously.


Whatever method you use – allow a great deal of time for it to work

Honesty is needed – plus tact

It is all about communication and good technique

Good luck,
Duncan Christie-Miller
All rights Reserved© April 2020