Digital Body Language: A Step-by-Step Guide

Digital Body Language
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What’s going to be the benefit for me? Learn to become a fantastic digital communicator.

Late email replies, ambiguous texts, awkward video calls . . . In the modern world, where many of our interactions occur via a computer screen, sometimes we’ve lost the capability to communicate effectively.

Without the traditional body language that can convey information about – or guide us to the tone and significance, the way we communicate, when, and how to express things is often confusing. But, there are numerous digital signals available to us. We only need to know how to recognize them.

These blinks will highlight the requirements and rules of virtual exchanges to avoid misunderstandings and encourage connections. Mastering your body language online will help you save time, have less stress, and make sure your voice is heard loudly and clearly – regardless of the distance between you.

If you’re trying to effectively communicate with your friends and family in today’s virtual age, you must be able to read digital body language.

Laura and Dave were fighting through text. It went back and forth for several hours. Then, Laura gave up and wrote, What are we done? Dave replied, that’s the case. Saddened by the end of their three-year marriage, Laura called in sick to go back to work the following day. Later that evening, Dave showed up at her home, wondering what she was doing wrong and why she didn’t attend dinner on time.

You should know what’s happening. Laura thought they were finished, and Dave thought they were done. Dave said they were done with the argument. Oops.

Laura and Dave aren’t the only ones in their confusion. We exchange numerous messages each day. A lot of the messages we send need to be interpreted differently. Consider emails, for example. It is said that 306 billion emails get exchanged every day. The average person sends 30 emails and receives an additional 96. Based on The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, we send emails with a tone that messages are frequently misinterpreted 50% a day!

Our confusion is due to our need to be more uncued in the real sense. The anthropologist Edward T. Hall had named the non-verbal cues, such as eyes, smiling silences, yawns and pauses or volume, posture and proximity. They comprise nearly three-quarters of contact with one another. Hall called them “the invisible language.”

The issue is that the invisible language isn’t always visible behind the screen. The online disinhibition effects only increase the gap between intent and meaning in the digital realm. This occurs when we can engage in a degree of humour we’d never allow offline.

What does this mean for today’s workplaces, where 70 per cent of communications between teams are virtual? And for our private lives, particularly during the COVID-19 epidemic in which online socializing is more common than in-person meetings?

In these short moments, I will look at the meaning of our body language and re-imagine it to fit the modern world. Focusing on how we speak and what we are saying or, that is, being aware of our body language on the internet, we can improve productivity, improve mental well-being and ensure we’re our most authentic selves on the internet.

Onscreen, your body language is translated into timing, punctuation and even medium.

It’s time for another tale.

The other day, his boss sent Jack, an executive at the mid-level, an email. It concluded with a simple sentence: You’ll be perfect. (period). However, everything could have been better. During this period, he haunted Jack. This was like a mini bomb—dangerous and disapproving. Jack was worried and concerned. Why did his boss use an exclamation point? Why didn’t she use to acclimate?

At one point, the period was the most boring punctuation symbol used to signify a sentence’s end. However, the tiny black dot has taken on an unintended and outsized significance in recent times. If a colleague, friend, and, in this instance, Jack’s boss end the message by putting a period in the middle, it is usually interpreted as a sign of resentment. Direct eye contact. An alarm signal.

In the meantime, exclamation marks are no longer used to convey intensity, urgency or excitement, to be used as a general sign of friendliness. You risk being perceived as cold if you do not employ exclamation points.

We can not rely on the tone or sound of our voice; each word and every sign is essential. The digital age has become visual, and the signals previously present in body language must be expressed online.

If punctuation is a sign of emotion in person, the time required to hit Send indicates respect. Digital conversations are usually asynchronous, meaning they do not occur within the “real moment.” This type of communication may be wildly comfortable but also prolonged. Our brains can invent ways to fill spaces with anxious thoughts, notably when trust is lacking, and the power dynamics are out of the ordinary.

The medium you select will indicate how you value an exchange. Each channel, whether text, email or even phone, has its own subtexts. Knowing how to use this arsenal of tools is a mark of professionalism.

After you’ve learned the basics, you’re ready to demonstrate or, more accurately, write the speech. The four rules governing digital body language spell out the exact steps to apply this new communication concept within your everyday life. I aim to help you spend less time worrying about that phrase (or the absence of exclamation points) and feel more productive.

Valuing Visibly implies explicitly demonstrating you’re aware, attentive and grateful to others.

In a relationship, a lack of respect relationships can result in D-O-O-M. At work, it could hinder motivation, teamwork and satisfaction with work. Yet, over 50% of employees say they need more respect and appreciation from their bosses. Are all bosses just rude or jerks? Are they oblivious?

But what if they need to be more respectful in ways that employees can recognize?

The first rule of digital body language recognizes the disconnect. It emphasizes that appreciation without words must be expressed in today’s society. Valuing Visibly involves acquiring new skills that demonstrate your appreciation for other people’s contributions and appreciate the needs of others.

The primary reason to be able to appreciate your actions is to demonstrate that you’re paying attention: “Reading attentively will be the new way of listening.” To confirm this, you must always refer to specifics in your correspondence. This shows that you took the effort to think about the issues and appreciate the other person’s work. It’s a given that you should spell her name correctly!

2. Show your awareness by demonstrating radical awareness and respecting the time of others. This means not putting off email replies, cancelling meetings at the last minute, or multitasking on conference calls, which, according to one study, a staggering 75 per cent do. To prevent this from happening, make an effort to eliminate the mute button from conference calls and make sure that you make meetings more engaging and concise.

It is also possible to practice awareness by recognizing your distinctions. Balancing the extroverts’ and introverts’ voices during emails or calls is challenging, and even in the online realm, the louder voices tend to dominate conversations. Extroverts benefit from accessing additional social spaces, such as breakout rooms. For introverts, you can send questions before meetings to allow them the time to think about and plan and plan time for downtime between meetings.

Also, “valuing visibly” means giving thanks – something like a smile or handwritten thank-you notes in digital format. If you are still determining if gratitude is essential, check out this study published by the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

Participants were asked for assistance creating the cover letter. Half received an email with an opening line that included the words Thank you, very thank you! Meanwhile, another half received an identical email with no thank you. Guess who was two times more likely to assist? (Yes, it’s a rhetorical question.)

Well-organized communication requires selecting the appropriate words as well as tone and channel.

A recent study revealed that 80% of projects need more details, and 56% of strategic projects fail due to poor communication. The result? Seventy-five million dollars are lost per $1 billion spent. This is only for the US.

That’s why my third rule in digital body language refers to communicating with care. The name suggests that it requires a concerted effort to avoid misunderstandings by ensuring you communicate as clearly as possible.

It would help if you became more discerning in punctuation, words, nuance, and h to achieve this. Or aren’t these the perfect topics for professional authors? Not quite. As reading with care is now the new way to listen, “writing is the new way to express empathy” – and is thought by many top executives as a significant competitive advantage.

Alongside being flawless in your words, you must also be able to read the room, which means you should adapt your voice to your audience. Be aware of how your words appear, mainly depending on your rank. Always remember that when speaking to your colleagues or boss, ensure you’re on the right side of neutrality.

Signatures and greetings also signal the tone. Include an official title in your signature if you want an immediate and straightforward response. Alternately, introducing emails with Hey or including a smiley face in an email with a single line can indicate that you’re informal.

To remain in control of your digital conversations, ensure you know the platform you’re using. In terms of length, complexity, and parity with the recipient and the subject, these are needed when choosing a channel. For instance, deliberately respond through email if your off-the-cuff responses don’t adequately address the serious and complex subject.

For longer emails, clarify using bold, underlined, or bold headings and provide context at the top. Always consider your message’s visual impact. The most critical thing you don’t want to do is overwhelm your reader.

Communication with care is about making sure everyone is on the same level. If misinterpretations occur most often, it’s due to an unintentional misspelling or misplaced punctuation marks. Therefore, please make sure that you proofread!

If you need more clarification on the message, ask questions. If the method isn’t functioning, change it. Sometimes, calling a person is worth thousands of emails. If the issue is tone, assume the intention was right and reply by presenting the facts.

When interpreting digital body language, allowing individuals to be heard is essential. Like in real life, we’re typically the last person to be informed when we’ve hurt someone.

To collaborate confidently, Stay consistent, stay up-to-date, and use patience in responding to situations.

It is easy to consider “deadlines” as a scourge of our lives at one point, but in the past time, they were actually in the American Civil War, and prisoners who crossed the border lines of the camp were shot. Nowadays, the word has some importance. While ignoring deadlines in today’s workplace is unlikely to cause you to die, completing them can present issues.

Consider an example from a Fortune study that recently revealed that 60% of employees must consult with at least ten coworkers daily to accomplish their tasks. In the past, it was simple to stop by a coworker’s desk and ask for some time. The task is more difficult with a multitude of employees who are spread across various areas and times. This is why a unified, real-time structure is all the more crucial.

Consistency is the hallmark of Collaborating Confidently – the 3rd law of body language in digital. Unorganized or misinterpreted messages could create confusion, leading to meetings being cancelled or inaction. It can also cause chaos.

To keep teams up-to-date and informed about the latest developments, ensure you check in with them regularly. To ensure that you stay on track, you must establish clear goals right from the beginning – Ask yourself and your team members what success looks like. Remember to set precise timeframes and expectations. You can, for instance, call out by asking who is doing what and when.

Make yourself available to answer questions. After all, your team participants are much more likely to remain motivated if they can contact you. However, an essential element of a successful collaboration involves allowing yourself and others time to create thoughtful, sensitive responses.

We’ve all heard that responding to messages when you’re exhausted, angry, frustrated, or annoyed can result in wasting time. Could you not do it? Although asynchronous communications have drawbacks, they allow us to rethink our thoughts rather than rambling about things we later regret.

Save an email in draft form and then wait for at least 24 hours, which is a reasonable amount of time, to edit and send it. Likely, by the time you’re done, you’ll not be shivering in a grey cloud.

To create an environment that encourages trusting completely, you must be open and encourage others to own their ideas.

In 2016, Microsoft released a chatterbot named Tay. It was set to bring new levels of human-AI interaction. Twitter trolling enslaved it in minutes and instructed it to send out offensive, inappropriate imagery and even words. Within 24 hours of its inception, Tay was retired – for good.

Microsoft President Satya Nadella could have blown up over the oversight of his team. Instead, he sent the team an email that read: “Keep pushing, and remember that I’m with you . . . The most important thing is to continue learning and advancing.” He realized that creating a culture of fear and failure would hinder future innovation, so he invested in confidence.

If there is a fourth law in digital language, and you have the confidence to trust entirely and take calculated risks, knowing your colleagues will stand behind your efforts and join forces to succeed. Additionally, knowing you’ll never be shot for breaking boundaries or that someone is just an unintentional black dot allows you and the people surrounding you to take action without fear and try new methods.

To create this dynamic, you must first emphasize the vulnerability to foster this type of environment. By leading by example, it helps team members to accept the fear of being uncomfortable. A statement like “Operations isn’t my strongest strength, and I’m willing to suggestions from you” or “I could be missing something. Could you assist me?” can encourage colleagues to voice their opinions. Recognizing that you need input will remind them that you appreciate their input.

The next step is to enable others. This means entrusting them to their job and giving them the necessary tools. Create a safe atmosphere for your mental health in good and bad times. It lets people know that they can always present the idea of a controversial viewpoint or even say, this doesn’t work for me, without fearing the consequences.

Naturally, mistakes and bad ideas will surface. Be sure to critique the actions and not the individual. As with the Tay situation, remember to show your support. In a work environment with total trust, even an aggressive or domineering colleague may become a decent, cooperative partner.

If you’ve learned to communicate, value your opinions carefully, and collaborate with confidence and trust, the next couple of glances will focus on how body language in digital form can be explicitly targeted to overcome gender, geographic, and generational distinctions.

The digital workplace has the potential to eliminate traditional gender stereotypes.

Penelope Gazin and Kate Dwyer were having a difficult time. They had just started Witchsy, the online marketplace that sells unusual artwork, and they were getting more than a bit of condescending email messages from potential customers and collaborators.

This was when they hired an unnamed male cofounder, Keith, who was placed in charge of the PR. Unsurprisingly, having a male cofounder immediately helped the women’s business. What’s more important? Keith was just an image on a screen.(Digital Body Language)

A less dramatic but more common effect of communication via text? It offers a new opportunity for women to exercise authority in a male-dominated workforce. This is because written words do away with traditional indicators of leadership, such as the voice’s tone.

In the same way, certain gender norms are being reinforced in the workplace. According to Harvard Business Review, women must be perceived as confident and warm to allow their skills to be admired. Skilled men, however, are perceived as such, with additional emotional data aside.(Digital Body Language)

It’s essential to remain true to your true self. However, you must also be able to adapt to the culture of your work environment. Avoiding softening words can create anxiety among coworkers and even switch an OK to OK or fantastic! For instance, it can foster friendship and go a long way to enhancing the trust and enthusiasm of your team.

As an executive, you can cut down on any expectations of niceties by setting a standard of beginning all emails at work with WINFY. That’s “What I’m Looking For from you.” To convey confidence, you should avoid apologizing too much (“I’m so sorry!”) and hedging the language (“Could you be . . .”). A useful Gmail plug-in known as Just Not Sorry can help with this.

Gender biases are natural; however, this brave new digital age is helping equalize the playing field. When writing an email or arranging the team meeting, ensure you are aware of your implicit biases. Do not feed into stereotypes, and think about the voices you might be able to amplify. Keep in mind that everyone can break the rules of society.(Digital Body Language)

Bridge creates a divide by being conscious of the differences in communication between cultures and generations.

Let me ask you this question: What is the correct answer? Is it to speak now, or for the rest of your life to keep your peace or the loudest duck is shot? This is another example: Imagine someone raised within the West and another in China are coworkers. Who is more likely to think with others? And who feels in silence?

We sometimes need to realize how our childhood experiences and cultural experiences influence our communication. When someone else’s standards don’t align with ours, we dismiss them as too formal or flashy without examining the context. What’s the issue in this instance? (Digital Body Language)

Communication experts typically divide their world into two kinds of expressions in culture. High-context cultures in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, the Mediterranean, Central Europe, and Latin America rely on implicit communications and nonverbal signals. In low-context societies, the majority of English-speaking Western nations, including countries like the US as well as the UK, the use of explicit communication is vital.

To succeed in high-context societies, be able to read through the text, create relationships that last, and utilize contact with people on the phone and in person to build trust. Start your emails with a courteous greeting with a query followed by an individual note, such as What was your holiday like? Take note of hierarchy, which could mean you must cc the manager.

In low-context societies, concise messages and emails can be enough to establish strong relationships. Use bold words and bullet points to draw attention to specifics, but only sign off on projects you intend to pursue, and don’t combine business and pleasure. Oh, and also ensure that all messages can be read on smartphones!

But it’s not just about where you’re from. Your generation influences how you utilize and interpret the devices you use for communication. Consider: Are you an electronic native or a digital adapter? If you’re a grown-up, messaging and emails are thought of as formal and calls from the blue could trigger anxiety. However, for those who’ve been forced to learn to use digital devices at a later time, messages are merely casual conversations, and phone calls are easy.

Don’t try to impose your personal preferences on others. Be open. It is easy to overcome phone phobia by texting or emailing to make calls. Remember to embrace emoticons! It’s unnecessary to beat the average person to send 96 daily, but sending the occasional flashy emoji time can be an excellent way to communicate the message.

Be bold and speak about your disagreements. Like all communication, having a curious, not accusing mentality is crucial. Also, an apostrophe with a question mark is superior to an exclamation point or a period.

Final Summary

The main message of these blinks is:

As our personal and professional lives are becoming increasingly digitalized, we no longer use traditional body language to assist in understanding. Consequently, our communication (morale and productivity) needs to be improved. To reduce friction and avoid confusion, we must create a universal digital body language based on four fundamental principles: being valued clearly, thoughtfully expressing yourself while collaborating confidently, and putting your trust in the totality. Adopting these habits with a sense of openness can lead to adaptable, resilient bonds that thrive across generations, genders and cultural backgrounds.

Here’s some actionable guidance:

Create virtual moments of the water cooler.

Many things change when you switch to remote working. However, we often miss spontaneous social interactions like going by someone’s desk to say hello and asking a tense colleague whether she’s OK or discussing the Netflix episode. These moments at the water cooler are essential to building trust and camaraderie and helping us keep an eye on the pulse of our work. So, what can you do when you’re away from the presence of a natural water cooler? It’s as simple as creating online time for people to get together and have a blast – five to ten minutes at the beginning of a group meeting could be enough!

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