Engaging with Mirrors: The Power of a Unicorn Journey


Using reflection methods or mirrors plays a crucial role in coaching and training. In this post, we illuminate the scientific foundations behind our approach, focusing on psychological safety, the concept of the “soft frame,” and the effectiveness of various mirrors.

Why Psychological Safety Is Essential

Psychological safety is a cornerstone of our approach. Research from 2017[1], based on 78 empirical studies, indicates a correlation of 0.43 between psychological safety and task performance. This highlights its impact on the learning and performance of individuals and teams, which is precisely what we aim to achieve with a Unicorn journey. We focus on creating an atmosphere of openness, honesty, and trust, so participants can confidently interact with the mirrors we provide.

The Soft Frame as a Foundation for Success

At Unicorn, we implement a ‘soft frame’ at the beginning of every coaching, workshop, or training. This co-created framework empowers participants to be themselves. It’s an agreement on how collaboration should occur and the behaviour expected from each other. It is more than a structure; it is a support system that encourages people to take social risks, such as openness, vulnerability, and accountability. The essence lies not in the framework but in the behaviour and habits it supports.

Reflection in Action: Take a Look in the Mirror

The reflective mirrors we use allow participants to distance themselves from daily concerns and objectively evaluate themselves. In addition to reflective questionnaires, we use nature as a mirror.

  • Team Mirror: This online team feedback tool provides an overview of the quality of collaboration within a team. It illustrates the difference between the desired and current situation as the team members perceive it. It is based on the well-founded HIT model.
  • 360° Inquiry: A leadership survey based on the organization’s or generic leadership model. This allows the collection of feedback from colleagues, managers, and employees to provide a mirror of various perceptions. We use a 360° feedback inquiry exclusively in the context of coaching and development.
  • Nature-Linked Outdoor Exercises: We use nature to reflect on (in)effective behaviour. We create an intensive and unique ‘laboratory’ where participants can actively experiment with their skills, behaviour, and thought patterns. After each experience, a reflection moment follows where participants confront the (in)effectiveness of their thought patterns and behaviour. This ‘mirror’ is held up to them through feedback from their colleagues and the Unicorn coaches.
The Power of Reflection

Using mirrors as a reflection method is not just practical; it has a big impact on learning processes. It strengthens the trust between the coach and coachee, which, in turn, influences the pace of the learning process. High trust, as proven, leads to “high speed, and low cost” in achieving learning objectives.

Why Mirrors Help Transform People

Our scientifically grounded approach to reflection methods provides practical evaluation tools and lays the groundwork for deeper, more effective learning processes. Anchored in psychological safety and supported by a soft frame, our methodologies demonstrate the power of thoughtful reflection for individual and team development.

[1] Frazier, M. L., Fainshmidt, S., Klinger, R. L., Pezeshkan, A., & Vracheva, V. (2017). Psychological safety: A meta‐analytic review and extension. Personnel Psychology, 70(1), 113-165.