Digital Body Language
How to Build Trust and Connection, No Matter the Distance
An instant Wall Street Journal Bestseller
The definitive guide to communicating and connecting in a hybrid world.
Email replies that show up a week later. Video chats full of “oops sorry no you go” and “can you hear me?!” Ambiguous text-messages. Weird punctuation you can’t make heads or tails of. Is it any wonder communication takes us so much time and effort to figure out? How did we lose our innate capacity to understand each other?
Humans rely on body language to connect and build trust, but with most of our communication happening from behind a screen, traditional body language signals are no longer visible -- or are they? In Digital Body Language, Erica Dhawan, a go-to thought leader on collaboration and a passionate communication junkie, combines cutting edge research with engaging storytelling to decode the new signals and cues that have replaced traditional body language across genders, generations, and culture. In real life, we lean in, uncross our arms, smile, nod and make eye contact to show we listen and care. Online, reading carefully is the new listening. Writing clearly is the new empathy. And a phone or video call is worth a thousand emails.
Digital Body Language will turn your daily misunderstandings into a set of collectively understood laws that foster connection, no matter the distance. Dhawan investigates a wide array of exchanges—from large conferences and video meetings to daily emails, texts, IMs, and conference calls—and offers insights and solutions to build trust and clarity to anyone in our ever changing world.
Building trust among remote work teams is no small feat, advises executive coach Dhawan (Get Big Things Done) in this sharp, timely treatise on the importance of translating body language to the digital space. Nonverbal cues, she writes, make up such a large part of communication that learning to function without them is a new skill: virtual employees face "widespread misunderstanding and conflict," which has led to anxiety, distrust, and paranoia. To counter this, Dhawan offers four laws of digital body language: value visibly, communicate carefully, collaborate confidently, and trust totally. She shows readers how to make colleagues feel valued without handshakes or in-person eye contact by, for instance, avoiding multitasking during meetings and sending emails in a rush; navigate power plays that come in the form of ambiguous digital communication such as overly-formal or one-word answers (she advises getting a second opinion when in doubt); and manage generational differences (understanding preferences is key for such decisions as when to use emoji). Dhawan's high-energy advice comes right on time: "As we all know by now, video meetings are far from perfect, with many feeling decidedly uncollaborative... but there are ways around this." Anyone trying to find their way through the new normal of office life will learn something from this real-world guide to respectful, productive communication.