Beyond the Build

Customer Relationships

Code Switching and Real Connections

I’ve been hearing a lot lately about “code switching,” where one adapts a “fit” to a conversation or meeting.

I have done this most recently when I was having lunch with a customer. As he leaned to the center of the table to make a point to the two of us sitting there, I then found myself naturally leaning to the table center as well. I didn’t realize what I had done until I thought about it while writing this post. It is all very natural, and I bet most people adapt in this way–mirroring posture or words–and do not even realize it. Maybe we are trying to fit in or make ourselves heard a bit better. It’s a subtle way we can connect. 

A few other ways I try to make a genuine connection in conversation: I Listen. There is no better way to earn the respect of someone you are speaking with than to put your own agenda aside and genuinely listen to his/her thoughts, before cranking up your own. Slow down. Really. In turn, take the time to make your points concise and easily digestible. You would be amazed at the way people listen when you present your information in a way that’s easy to process. Pay attention to non-verbals. Sometimes people are saying one thing and thinking something entirely different. At times, body language tells us as much as the words.

I think sometimes we are often so focused on the way we appear to others or pushing our agenda, that we lose touch. Making subtle efforts to be present and inclusive can change your relationships, both business and personal.

Merrill Stewart Jr.

Merrill Stewart is Founder and CEO of The Stewart/Perry Company, a commercial building contractor based in Birmingham.