Love in Action
Love in Action
Aug 12, 2021
Decoding Digital Body Language with Erica Dhawan
Play • 46 min

Marcel Schwantes’ guest on this week’s episode of Love In Action is Erica Dhawan, founder and CEO of Cotential Group, a global consulting firm that transforms the way companies work through 21st-century collaboration. She is a keynote speaker and expert on 21st-century collaboration skills and behaviors. Her most recent book, Digital Body Language: How to Build Trust and Connection, No Matter the Distance, educates and instructs readers on how to translate traditional body language to the digital world. 

  • Currently, body language is a popular topic among leaders. They want to know how to communicate better nonverbally. There are many subtle things that leaders do or neglect to do that send messages, whether they want to or not. For example, Marcel shares, leaning forward when someone is speaking to you conveys that you are listening attentively to what they are saying. [1:22]
  • “You have to build trust in order to have a healthy culture and high performing organization,” Marcel says. “I think that in a virtual setting especially, trust can make or break teams.” Erica talks about the current crisis of misunderstanding that the virtual nature of the workplace is creating, and how it impacts productivity, collaboration, and profits. [8:10]
  • People read and interpret messages very differently, so we need a new set of common rules to root out miscommunication. According to Erica, research has shown that placing a period at the end of a sentence can signify frustration or anger for the younger generation, but people who learned digital communication in adulthood may interpret it as good grammar. [12:36]
  • “[A] key piece of misunderstanding is how much it's shaped by the power and trust gaps with the other person,” Erica claims. “We are always reading into others’ digital body language based on two questions: ‘Who has more or less power?’ and ‘How much do you trust each other?’” [18:20]
  • Erica shares things you consider when conducting a virtual meeting. Leaders should be mindful of the various personality types in their teams. The extroverts of the team may find it easy to speak up and contribute to discussions, but the introverts may face difficulties and will subsequently be spoken over. Facilitating accommodations like chat tools and small breakout rooms to combat this issue will ensure that everyone has an opportunity to let their voice be heard. [27:07]
  • “Listening [as a skill] today is not only being thoughtful and responsive, but it's also being conscious and careful in the words…” Erica remarks. “Reading carefully is about taking the time to make sure you're reading by assuming good intent, you're reading for how you can add value and respond to them thoughtfully.” [33:34]
  • “I think what is most exciting about leadership in a digital era is how much more geographically inclusive and less visually biased we can be,” Erica comments. “We can truly allow anyone into our space and I think that is the full extension of love and the human spirit.” [40:38]


Erica Dhawan on LinkedIn | Twitter

Digital Body Language: How to Build Trust and Connection, No Matter the Distance

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