5 Tips for Improving Your Digital Communication Skills
Harness the Power of Digital Body Language to Build Trusting Relationships
Expert digital communication skills are key in the digital age. Daily face-to-face interactions have turned into occasional Zoom calls lacking full-body expression. Most communication is delivered in the form of short-form emails or texts, leaving room for error and miscommunication. In addition, technology issues can cause delays or cancellations. Having the necessary skills to communicate clearly, concisely and respectfully across various virtual channels can help you stand out among digital mis-communicators.
As organizations navigate hybrid and remote workplaces, digital communication skills climb the list of top in-demand skills at nearly every level: entry, mid and executive. AESC research reinforces this need for improvement and expertise, as hundreds of C-level leaders across the globe cited that communication and collaboration top the list of culture change executives would like to see in their organizations.
Improving your digital communication skills is the key to success in a hybrid or remote work environment. One of the most important skills to strengthen is digital body language. Similar to traditional body language, digital body language refers to the reliance on non-verbal body language cues via digital channels to connect with others. Strong digital body language is a useful skill to bridge communication gaps among different generations and cultures, build trust and, ultimately, deepen professional relationships.
Improve your digital communication skills, including digital body language, to foster trusting relationships, stand out amongst your peers and set an example for others using these five tips:
1. Ensure You’re Projecting a Trusting & Collaborative Presence
In-person interactions enable individuals to see your physical body language and facial expressions, reducing the potential for miscommunication. Video calls cut out half of the non-verbal cues necessary for clear understanding. Email, instant messages and texts remove both, causing requests to come across more rudely or be misconstrued. All of these can lead to a lack of collaboration and strained relationships.
To combat such issues, ensure you’re projecting a trusting and collaborative persona across all communication channels:
- Extend appreciation and gratitude in nearly every interaction, whether it’s via email or video call.
- Actively listen to all discussion participants and ensure everyone has a chance to speak.
- Foster an environment of belonging so everyone feels comfortable participating and providing an opinion.
- Harvard Business Review even recommends utilizing emojis to gain a deeper understanding of how your team is feeling, model emotions, build cognitive empathy and, overall, connect with employees.
2. Remain Positive in all Remote Work Situations
Whether you receive an email that doesn’t sit right or disagree with a coworker on a video call, it’s critical you remain positive and project that energy into the situation. If an aggravating situation arises, try to remain calm and reason with yourself. You should not rashly react with a scathing email or get into an argument with your coworker on the video chat.
Avoid responding to emails when you’re angry or frustrated. Step away for a break or work on other tasks until you feel calm and level-headed enough to respond with understanding and appreciation. When disagreeing with an employee or coworker via video chat, ensure you explain that you understand their point of view, point out the positive points of their argument, and then calmly express your point of view. Remember to encourage other viewpoints; you want to cultivate a collaborative environment.
3. Review Your Digital Persona
A digital persona reflects your online presence and typically encompasses your profiles on social media websites and professional networking platforms. It’s your name, profile picture, experience, education, certifications and status updates. The digital persona is typically the first thing colleagues, peers and potential clients see before they jump on a video call or meet you in person. Reviewing your digital persona ensures it comes across the way you want it to, making you appear professional and trustworthy.
4. Be Thoughtful About Communication Channels
It’s likely you’ve sat in a meeting and thought to yourself, “This could have been an email.” In such instances, employees or clients may feel their time has been wasted with a one-hour meeting. It’s important to avoid such feelings and mix-ups by being thoughtful about the communication channel you choose. Is there too much information for an email? Is it something that needs to be discussed at length before it moves forward? Or is it a quick “yes” or “no” confirmation? Consider length and complexity before booking time on someone’s calendar, picking up the phone or hitting send on an email.
5. Take a Digital Body language Course
A digital body language course will provide all the tips and tricks you need to develop your virtual communication skills. AESC offers digital body language expert Erica Dhawan’s course on digital body language to help leaders, professionals, individuals and teams enhance workplace collaboration, build authentic relationships and reduce cross-team dysfunction.
In the three-hour course, participants will learn the four laws of body language, four major sources of digital anxiety and how to solve them, how to choose the right communication channel, the ideal way to project an executive presence, cross-generational and cross-cultural digital communication methods and much more. Learning extends beyond the course with downloadable worksheets and a digital body language style guide to reinforce comprehension.