“Code-Switching – Special Advice – How To Easily Win More Negotiations” – Negotiation Tip of the Week

“Code-switching beware – it’s easier convincing masses of people that you’re a fool than convincing them that you’re just fooling.” -Greg Williams, The Master Negotiator & Body Language Expert (Click to Tweet)

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“Code-Switching – Special Advice

How To Easily Win More Negotiations”

People don’t realize they’re always negotiating.

When you engage in negotiation with others, how frequently do you code-switch? Code-switching is using different language styles to communicate more effectively based on the style used by those with whom you speak. Code-switching is also conveyed via someone’s body language. And using it during negotiations can give you an advantage.

Continue, and you will discover how to enhance your interactions with those you deal with by code-switching.

Benefits Of Code-Switching

For one, code-switching allows others to perceive the switcher as someone like themselves. During negotiation, this tactic can become one’s silent and powerful ally. It can also break the flow of negotiation when such might be required.

For example, while matching your negotiation counterpart’s style, pace, and tone – the negotiation is going well. Then, an offer is made that you do not agree with 100%. At that moment, you might alter any aspect of your communication to convey your dissatisfaction with the offer. To do so, you will engage in code-switching.

Observing your change, the opposing negotiator will most likely inquire about what occurred. That will be the opportunity to stress your displeasure with the offer.  

That is but one example of where and when you can use code-switching. Suffice it to say; that code-switching will help allow you to alter the perception of your persona and assist you in fitting better into the environments in which you find yourself.   

What do you fondly remember about a pleasant experience you had recently? What about one that was not so pleasurable – what do you recall about it? I suggest that components made the encounter one way versus another in both situations.

So, what were the variables? They were the affinity you had for those you engaged in the pleasant environment and lacking it in the other. Given that insight, how might you employ code-switching to enhance the negotiation process?

How To Use Code-Switching During Negotiation

1. Break or enhance likeability – People like people like themselves. When a negotiator senses that you are like them, you and they connect better and more profoundly. In this case, you would use code-switching, mimicking their style of speech to accomplish that. A deeper connection can allow you to make requests with a heightened probability that they will be granted.  

2. You might use code-switching to elevate your distinction from your negotiation counterpart. That would be accomplished by adopting a persona to match the façade you were projecting. Employed against a negotiation personality type that already viewed you as the power figure in the talks will only heighten that perspective.  

In every situation, a degree of code-switching occurs in every negotiation. It is the degree that you should be mindful of that it happens. Doing so will protect you from those that attempt to use code-switching against you. It will also provide the opening of opportunities as to when you might use it.

Enhance Code-Switching With Body Language

While code-switching is usually related to linguistics, body language also impacts it. As such, code-switching and body language go hand and hand.

I recall a time when I was in my early teens. A new kid moved into the neighborhood. Some kids said the new kid talked like us, but he didn’t walk like us. That led them to believe the new kid was ‘not right’ – he didn’t fit in, and the new kid was told that.

Within a few weeks, the new kid changed how he walked and found that the group accepted him. In that case, it was due to the new kid’s body language matching the linguistic code he emitted. That is the value that coherent body language adds to code-switching. So, how might you synchronize your body language when code-switching?  

1. Be aware of the gestures emitted in the group in which you instill yourself.

2. Mimic the group’s gestures – to enhance your persona’s value, replicate the motions used by the prominent members of the group – you will be perceived as fitting in better by doing so and more like those leaders.

While a purist might say body language alignment, in this case, is unrelated to code-switching, since code-switching refers to linguistics, even if the use of body language was cited as non-verbal code-switching, it has its value. Accordingly, be aware of when you can enhance the perception of your value by using it, and do so when and where appropriate.


There is value in code-switching during a negotiation when engaged at the right time and environment. There is also a potential downside; that can occur when you feel inconsistent with your fundamental values. Thus, be mindful of how you feel when using it. If code-switching repulses you, it should go without saying that you should not do it. That would be something to weigh against the outcome of the negotiation.

Therefore, code-switching is another tool you can employ to your benefit during a negotiation. You now know its benefits and challenges. If you use it wisely in future talks, you should notice an increase in your negotiation outcomes. And everything will be right with the world.

Remember, you’re always negotiating! 

Check out this offer to learn more about negotiating better and reading body language!

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