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Mastering Digital Body Language and Winning Today’s Online Business Environment

With less business occurring in-person, how to activate what's best about our digital world to make the most of communications 

By:

Erica Dhawan

Who they are?

For the last 10 years, my personal passion, books, research, and consulting with business owners has focused on one question: How can we connect more intelligently in today’s marketplace – with customers, employees, partners and other stakeholders?

I’ve traveled the world working with businesses – small and large -- to reimagine how they win sales, drive customer loyalty, and improve engagement anytime, anywhere. Everywhere I went, the same questions kept coming up: How do I improve how we connect with customers of different ages and working styles who rarely meet in person and communicate effectively? How do I keep my teams feeling connected to each other and to people on other teams? Why does it seem infinitely harder to foster trust, engagement, and the confidence to take risks in a digital environment? And finally, why do my own communications so often seem to miss the mark, producing unintended and anxiety-filled consequences?

The more I worked with my clients to solve these problems, the more obvious it became that they were caused by the very digital tools that had set us free in so many ways. Our failure to grapple with the communication-altering side effects of our shiny new digital tools—email, text messaging, PowerPoint, Zoom—created widespread misunderstanding, wasted time and conflict, which in turn manifested to impacting our businesses.

As a researcher, author, and keynote speaker, I’m committed to helping business leaders everywhere reimagine connection with Digital Body Language in mind - a critical driver to win sales and grow small businesses in our modern world.

 

Where their passion for their topic comes from and the research behind it

When people ask me how I started doing what I do, I tell them it’s a story that’s lasted my whole life. As a first-generation American girl born to Indian parents, I came to English in an indirect way. I grew up in a middle-class neighborhood outside of Pittsburgh. At home, my parents, both physicians who had immigrated to the United States in their twenties, spoke Hindi—and only rarely English.

My mom and dad both made it a high priority that my two siblings and I honored traditional Indian values and customs. Silence was a sign of respect to elders, and listening was a prized trait. Learning English, doing well academically, and almost everything else came in second.

Caught between two cultures, I went inside myself. Oftentimes you would hardly know if I was in the room. In school I was shy, quiet - more an observer than a participant. Raising my hand or calling any attention to myself was unimaginable to me.  As a girl pivoting between the thickly accented English of my parents and my own bad Hindi and wanting to feel like I belonged somewhere, I developed a few tricks, one of which was the ability to decipher other people’s body language.

Body language offered the key to understanding the foreign worlds around me. I became obsessed with decoding my classmates’ signals and cues - no matter how subtle; tone, pacing, pauses, and gestures. The popular girls walked around with their heads high, shoulders pulled back, almost literally looking down on the rest of us. The older kids showed their disinterest by slouching during school assemblies, their eyes turned to the ground or each other—never to the adult speaking.

While I was an immigrant learning traditional body language as a kid, I realized that today we are all immigrants learning Digital Body Language in the modern world. For the last few years, I’ve noticed business owners continue to struggle: Endless sales calls, video chats full of “Oh no, you go” moments, ghosting, email replies that show up a week later, and digital tools creating more miscommunication, angst, and confusion.

It seemed that misunderstood “Digital Body Language”—or rather, the lack of a set of universally agreed-upon rules—was creating big problems across the globe: in businesses, communities, and even families.

This set me on a journey. For the last decade, I’ve sought out to create a nuts-and-bolts rulebook for clear communications in the modern digital world. Communicating what we really mean today requires that we understand today’s signals and cues at a granular level while developing a heightened sensitivity to words, nuance, subtext, humor, and punctuation.

 

Why this topic is critical for Small Business owners

Non-verbal cues make up 60-80% of face-to face communication. Small Business owners 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. This is where Digital Body Language becomes important.

Digital Body Language is about knowing when to pick up the phone - it’s worth a thousand reply-all emails. It’s sending quick recap emails summarizing the key points and insights and confirming next steps within 30 minutes of a meeting - which is like the new, “virtual handshake.” Activate what's best about our digital world to make meetings even better. For example, having an existing customer briefly join a sales pitch to a prospective customer or showing short videos to enhance an on-screen meeting – it’s like the new virtual cocktail hour.  And when you are in that face-to-face meeting? - Put your phone on, do not disturb, so you’re not looking down at your screen when a customer or employee is trying to make eye contact with you.

 

Why they’re excited to partner with Chase for Business

Imagine yourself after mastering Digital Body Language: You can connect with sales prospects anytime, anywhere, you’re closing deals, and you’re driving revenue up and to the right in your organization with speed and effectiveness.

My goal is to help small business owners improve their digital body language to win sales, drive customer loyalty and drive engagement in our 21st century marketplace. Empowering you with the tools you need to lead with more competence and confidence and less stress and frustration, this content will help you build relationships anytime, anywhere, in any part of the world.

Digital Body Language is the key to success in today’s marketplace for a small business owner. I’m looking forward to partnering with Chase for Business to reach clients across the US.

For further insights, please check my LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram!

Erica is speaking at the Business Insight Seminar events across the country throughout 2022. To hear Erica speak, register here at an upcoming event. 


For informational/educational purposes only: The views expressed in this article may differ from those of other employees and departments of JPMorgan Chase & Co. Views and strategies described may not be appropriate for everyone and are not intended as specific advice/recommendation for any individual. Information has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but JPMorgan Chase & Co. or its affiliates and/or subsidiaries do not warrant its completeness or accuracy. You should carefully consider your needs and objectives before making any decisions and consult the appropriate professional(s). Outlooks and past performance are not guarantees of future results.

You should carefully consider your needs and objectives before making any decisions, and consult the appropriate professional(s).

JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. Member FDIC. Equal Opportunity Lender, ©2022 JPMorgan Chase & Co.