“Body Language And Code-Switching – How To Add Value Increasing Negotiation Skills” – Negotiation Tip of the Week

“Using code-switching, combined with body language, can lead to improved connections and better negotiation outcomes.” -Greg Williams, The Master Negotiator & Body Language Expert 

Click here to get the book!

Are you aware of how to use code-switching as it relates to negotiation? Do you know how body language enhances or detracts from a negotiator’s ability to use code-switching effectively?

People negotiate constantly to obtain better outcomes. A powerful tool that impacts negotiations is code-switching. It is powerful because it allows someone proficient in its use to adjust their communication style based on the people they are negotiating with. Another component also enriches code-switching – how a negotiator employs their body language during the process.

This article delivers insights into code-switching, its power dynamics, the pros and cons of when you might employ it, and how to use body language to enrich its use. By adding the ability to code-switch effectively, people will perceive you to be more persuasive and influential. That will enhance your negotiation efforts. Continue to discover more.

Code-Switching – What Is It In Negotiation

Code-switching, as it pertains to negotiation, encapsulates how a negotiator switches between using different language styles and behaviors to interact with various individuals in different situations. Your communication style should consider the background of those you are negotiating with, per their mannerisms and speech, along with other subtleties that might affect the negotiation.

Code-Switching – What You Should Consider

In an ever-enlarging diverse world, code-switching can be the connection that bonds negotiators or ordinary people together. But you must be mindful of how you engage in doing so. When code-switching, if done ineloquently and perceived as such, you could do more harm than good.

To use it adeptly, ensure a connection exists with the other party. That can be in the form of how one dresses, initially speaks, or in one’s displayed mannerisms. If you cannot accomplish that, consider not employing code-switching as an aid.  

The Power Dynamics Of Code-Switching

There are always power dynamics in negotiations. And the power flows between competing negotiators during the talks. Code-switching can be the source that shifts dynamics by employing it skillfully.

To do that, position your actions to resonate with your opposite such that they see a reflection of themselves in you. Strive to have them perceive you as being authentic.  

The Difference Between Code-Switching And Mirroring

Code-switching and mirroring are close conceptional cousins. With code-switching, people may alter between different communication styles (i.e., speak with one dialect or another, based on the person they are speaking with. Mirroring, related to negotiation and body language, entails mimicking the other party’s body language, tone of voice, and other non-verbal cues.

The Pros And Cons Of Code-Switching

For every yin, there is a yang, and so is the case with code-switching.

Potential Pitfalls Of Code-Switching

If one enters code-switching without knowing the other entity’s background, that negotiator risks misalignment with their counterpart while possibly having the opposition misinterpret their meanings and intentions.

That could create the perception of a negotiator being less skilled, not adequately prepared for the negotiation, casting the perception that they are not one of them (making rapport more challenging to create), or worse, treated with disdain. And, too much or perceived insincerity in one’s code-switching can prevent trust and authenticity from flourishing.

Potential Upsides To Code-Switching

Code-switching can be beneficial in negotiations. For example, during negotiations, you can use it to signal alignment (i.e., you and I are alike), modify how you make a request, emphasize a particular word or phrase, clarify a possible misunderstanding, and be subtle in your communications. You would accomplish that by speaking to the familiarity of the person you are negotiating with.

While code-switching can be a potent tool to increase a negotiator’s skills, it’s crucial to be aware of situations where its application may be detrimental.

Understanding Body Language’s Value-Add To Code-Switching

Words need help to enrich code-switching; body language answers that call.

The body language gestures one exhibits add or detract from the perception of their message – that affects how one is received and perceived by the recipient of one’s code-switching efforts. Thus, body language becomes an integral part of code-switching.

To use body language more effectively when code-switching, be mindful of cultural norms; in some cultures, people are more expressive than others – they make more robust gestures.

Be aware of how gestures may impact the perception that others have of you. Some may be more impactful than others. Also, be conscious of the effects of incongruent gestures; some may project the opposite of your intentions by sending mixed signals, which could impact your interaction and negotiation.


Code-switching can serve as your silent psychological partner to enhance your negotiation skills and efforts. Using body language in code-switching can create unimaginable opportunities for deeper connections, cultural understanding, and enhanced negotiation outcomes. 

In your next negotiation, employ code-switching to the degree you feel comfortable doing so. Mark your results. Through continuing improvement of its usage, your negotiation skills will improve, as will your negotiation outcomes. And everything will be right with the world.

Remember, you’re always negotiating!

Listen to Greg’s podcast at https://megaphone.link/CSN6318246585

After reading this article, what are you thinking? I’d like to know. Reach me at Greg@TheMasterNegotiator.com

To receive Greg’s free “Negotiation Tip of the Week” click here https://www.themasternegotiator.com/negotiation-speaker/   and sign up at the bottom of the page

Scroll to Top