Use Your Customer’s Language

The common phrase is “When in Rome, act like a Roman.” I extend that to “speak like a Roman.” If you want to build familiarity, you need to be in touch with your customer or audience. That includes the language they use.

Business people who are working with an international customer use language learning tools, like Rosetta Stone, to learn the customer’s language. Similarly, we can do things to build rapport with English speaking customers.


Learning and perception is said to fall into three styles: Kinesthetic, Visual, and Auditory. 

The following lists shows the kind of words each style will use.

Kinesthetic:

  • Feel
  • Touch
  • Grasp
  • Tap Into
  • Hard
  • Concrete
  • Solid
  • Get a Feel For

Visual:

  • Look
  • Reveal
  • View
  • Imagine
  • Appear
  • Focused
  • Show
  • Hazy

Auditory:

  • Hear
  • Listen
  • Deafening
  • Loud
  • Silence
  • All Ears
  • Rings a Bell
  • Sounds Good to Me

The smart thing to do is to use comparable language to communicate. Here are some examples of phrasing that might work.

Kinesthetic:

  • I’m in touch with what’s happening on the project.
  • I feel strongly that this product will meet your needs.
  • Try to get a feel for what it will do.

Visual:

  • I see what you are saying.
  • We are laser focused on the problem.
  • Let’s draw something up.

Auditory:

  • How does a personal demonstration sound to you?
  • Let’s review the current status while we talk.
  • I hear what you’re saying.

Let’s take it one level further. When considering the kind of presentation or demonstration to conduct, consider the customer’s style.

Kinesthetic: a hardware demonstration where the customer gets to operate it; during a presentation, pass an example piece of hardware around the room.

Visual: powerful pictures in the presentation; well-implemented graphics; powerful gestures; pleasant facial expressions; logos; the way people are dressed (perhaps team shirts).

Auditory: well-crafted language; pleasant voices; pleasant, relevant music.


Stephen P. (Steve) Czerniak

About the author: Mr. Czerniak retired after a successful career that culminated in fifteen years of experience as an internal consultant and “change agent.” He is currently a volunteer at the Macomb-Oakland University INCubator and the Troy Historic Village and Society.

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