There is a subtle difference between mirroring and reflecting when you employ the skills of Active Listening in a coaching conversation.
Mirroring back your coachee's exact words is a simple way to demonstrate that you are tracking the conversation. It can also help you check for understanding. Here's an example:
"You say you are frustrated with your lifeGroup meetings because they are disorganized, one person always gets the group off in the ditch, and you never get home before 11 pm...did I get that right?"
Reflecting back what your coachee says is Active Listening 2.1. Reflection captures the essence of what your coach is thinking and feeling. When you reflect, you are connecting the dots and offering an observation, a hunch about the story behind the words and how they are expressed. You are assessing, not asserting or assuming. A reflection has a tentative quality to it, and will use words like hunch, wondering, maybe, or possibly rather than definitive words like know, believe, positive, or convinced. Notice the tone of a reflection:
"I have a hunch that your disenchantment with your lifeGroup goes beyond suffering through poorly run meetings and losing sleep every Wednesday night. When I connect the dots between what you've shared, I am wondering if you feel invisible in those meetings. I can imagine that you don't feel appreciated for your faithful attendance, and your need to get home at a reasonable hour is not respected, from what you say. How does that assessment land on you?"
When using either listening skill, it is absolutely essential that you stay open to your coachee's response. If they disagree with the way you've mirrored or reflected their message, welcome their correction and encourage them to "Say more"! They will, and you'll be surprised by how much you both learn. Do not defend or promote your viewpoint. You may be right, but advocating for your truth will divert energy from the purpose of coaching--helping them discover their truth.