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Building Virtual Relationships: The 4 Laws of Digital Body Language

Erica Dhawan In the last year, we’ve seen more disruption and yet more innovation in the client-consultant relationship than in the past 10 years—which has created new challenges and more opportunities at the same time.

Service professionals are realizing that there is an intangible missing factor without in-person body language. As executive search and leadership consultants know, building trust in a client-consultant relationship could take years. With miscommunication and misread signals, these relationships could be damaged within minutes.

Erica Dhawan, author of Digital Body Language: How to Build Trust and Connection No Matter the Distance, has spent the last decade helping organizations across industries—from Walt Disney to Chase to Nike to Google—transform their collaboration skills to meet the demands of a digital-first environment. Here she offers an overview of digital body language and shares the 4 laws that can help build trust and loyalty even from afar. 


Defining Digital Body Language

Our digital shift has unlocked new opportunities to communicate and sell in a hybrid marketplace without being as geographically constricted and visually biased to who is “on-site.” Video meetings now precede the conference call and sales conversations don’t rely on traveling or dinner outings to close deals.

Digital Body Language serves the same purpose as traditional body language does in our face-to-face conversations and is important for all of the same reasons. We rely on non-verbal body language cues to connect and build trust with one another—and those skills are even harder to translate across a screen.

The 4 Laws of Digital Body Language

In Erica's new book she shares four new laws of digital body language to build loyalty and lasting relationships in the client-consultant relationship even at a distance.

  1. Value Visibly.

    Clients and consultants are more likely to feel undervalued because the traditional body language that we use to show our appreciation -- a relieved smile, a handshake, a pat on the back -- easily become invisible in digital communication. When we value visibly in our hybrid world, we show appreciation in everyday ways including being mindful of others' schedules, sharing public praise, and using digital body language signals of respect.

  2. Communicate Carefully.

    Clear, unambiguous messages require making a continuous effort to minimize the risk for misunderstanding despite the fast-paced nature of our world.

  3. Collaborate Confidently.

    Confidence in the digital era in the client-consultant relationship is about creating a working environment where each client and consultant knows what is expected of them, why their work is important, and that they have the freedom to take conscious risks.

  4. Trust Totally.

    Trust Totally is the final result of implementing the first three laws. It is a 360-degree firm engagement where both the client and consultant tell the truth, keep their word, and deliver on external commitments.

Navigating a world without body language cues is surprisingly difficult, but it is possible to create a hybrid workplace that doesn’t fall prey to the hidden costs of miscommunication.

Learn more from Erica about the art and science of using Digital Body Language at AESC's Virtual May Conference. Discover how to enhance virtual engagement, marketing, and selling tactics, make the most of phone and video visits and stand out in the current marketplace.


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