“Digital Body Language” Mistakes From Erica Dhawan: Author, Speaker, & Entrepreneur
My guest for Episode #91 of the My Favorite Mistake podcast is Erica Dhawan, a globally recognized leadership expert, and keynote speaker. She helps organizations and leaders innovate faster and further, together.
Her new book DIGITAL BODY LANGUAGE: How to Build Trust & Connection No Matter the Distance reached #3 on the Wall Street Journal bestseller list! Scroll down to learn how to enter to win a copy.
She has a BS from The Wharton School, an MPA from Harvard Kennedy School, and an MBA from MIT Sloan.
In today's episode, Erica shares her “favorite mistake” story about how her electronic communication with a newly hired intern gave the wrong impression — and what she learned from that experience.
Other topics and questions:
- Should we communicate differently with “digital natives?”
- Was your book based on mistakes or research or both?
- What is digital body language?
- Writing vs video meetings?
- When do we really need to be on video??
- Digital body language mistakes?
- Meeting mutitasking — Not paying attention?
- “This meeting could have been an email”
- Dealing with the person who never wants to turn on video??
- Virtual speaking mistakes?
- Find Erica on
Scroll down to find:
- Enter to win a copy of her book
- Partial Video
- How to subscribe
- Full transcript
Enter to Win!
Watch the First Part of the Episode:
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Automated Transcript (Likely Contains Mistakes)
Mark Graban (0s):
Episode 91, Erica Dhawan author of the best-selling book, Digital Body Language.
Erica Dhawan (8s):
Well, my favorite mistake is of course, one that I've learned a lot from, and we learned from all our mistakes, but I think this one really sent me on an important path, which even helped drive my passion to write my new book.
Mark Graban (27s):
I'm Mark Graban. This is my favorite mistake in this podcast. You'll hear business leaders and other really interesting people talking about their favorite mistakes because we all make mistakes, but what matters is learning from our mistakes instead of repeating them over and over again. So this is the place for honest reflection and conversation, personal growth and professional success. Visit our website at myfavoritemistake,podcast.com for links, show notes and information about Erica's book, including a chance to enter, to win a free copy. Go to mark graban.com/mistake91. Our guest Today is Erica Dhawan.
Mark Graban (1m 9s):
She is a globally recognized leadership expert and keynote speaker. She helps organizations and leaders innovate faster and further together. She has a BS from the Wharton school and MPA from Harvard Kennedy school and an MBA from MIT Sloan. One of my alma maters. So before I tell you a little bit more about Erica, let me first off say thank you and welcome. It's great to be here, mark. I've had a chance to talk to and MIT Sloan professor Jonathan Byrnes. I don't know if you took a class
Erica Dhawan (1m 41s):
Years ago. I think I remember, but you know, I often don't always remember what I learned in business school anymore.
Mark Graban (1m 49s):
Well, and maybe with the work that you've done and the books you're writing, maybe some of that moves well beyond what either of us learned, even at a great institution like MIT Sloan, or the other amazing schools that you've been to.
Erica Dhawan (2m 3s):
Absolutely. You know, I think so much of what we learned in five or 10 years ago, I think has to be adapted for our times. So as mark, you've done with your podcast, learning is iterator iterative now, and we have to adapt very quickly to the new changes of
Mark Graban (2m 20s):
Our world. Yeah. And learning how to learn is a great skill and a great universities help tee you up for that. I would say for sure, we're going to talk later on about Erica's latest book, it's called digital body language, how to build trust and connection, no matter the distance. So that is certainly not a topic that was being covered there 20 years ago. I mean, we had email and AOL messenger. I'm dating myself. That was the digital realm at that point.
Erica Dhawan (2m 48s):
Absolutely. I mean, AOL messenger was I started using it when I was in high school and it was like this new social cool thing. And I am close to Mark Zuckerberg's age. So was in my college years. But I think for most of us that are, could date ourselves to the 1980s or, or 1970s, we may not be used to using a lot of these tools as a child, but have definitely become adept in as an adult
Mark Graban (3m 20s):
D hopefully adept, if not adept, gosh, we are having to use them a lot. So I'm, I'm really curious to pick your brain about that later on. So before we talk about that topic and I'm sure it'll bring up mistakes that you've made or that you've seen others make, you know, here, when we talk about a favorite mistake with all the different things that you've done as an entrepreneur and in different projects and initiatives and settings, I'm curious what your answer is to this question. What's your favorite mistake Erica?
Erica Dhawan (3m 49s):
Well, my favorite mistake is of course, one that I've learned a lot from, and we learn from all our mistakes, but I think this one really sent me on an important path, which even helped drive my passion to write my new book recently. You know, this is about three or four years ago. I hired a new intern to work with me and he worked with me remotely. So he was based in Dallas and I was based in New York and we'll call him Jim for the sake of anonymity. But when we started our relationship, I thought things were going great. Jim was incredibly responsive. I would send him a work request. He would get it done within 24 hours.
Erica Dhawan (4m 31s):
I would check in and say, does this sound good? And he would write quick to the point messages like, okay, or got it. I would have quick calls with him, all conference calls, not video calls years ago to make sure things were on track. And he would take notes and get on them within that week. And I felt like it was a fantastic working relationship that wasn't until six weeks in, when I got on a call with him. And I said, you know, I know we're six weeks in. I think things are going great. How do you think things are going? And he finally said, I don't like this internship. I'm thinking about quitting today.
Erica Dhawan (5m 11s):
And all of a sudden I realized that what I thought was going very well for him was going abysmally, terribly. What was actually happening was my brief to the point messages for Jim who was in Gen Z are very much a digital native often lacked cues of how he was doing about his work. My quick THX period emails made it made to him, felt a little bit disrespectful because I wasn't acknowledging the hours and hours he was spending on his work. I would take conference calls with him, but sometimes I would show up late. I would take other calls during that conference because my client called and there were so many cases where I wasn't valuing Jim's time.
Erica Dhawan (5m 57s):
I wasn't checking in with him to make sure he had all the tools he needed to get his work done. I wasn't showing appreciation and respect. And so my favorite mistake was really the terrible ways that I treated Jim, that allowed me to recognize how I needed to fix it. The first thing I did was I realized he wanted to really learn and growth. So we set up some learning goals for him. Every single week. We set aside 20 minutes on the phone to talk about things he wanted to learn about that were outside of his day-to-day work. Secondly, about showing my appreciation, letting him know where his work stood with me when he sent emails, instead of sending those brief low context messages.
Erica Dhawan (6m 42s):
And most importantly, on a regular basis, we started using zoom years before it got popular and we got on video calls and it made a massive difference. So my favorite mistake was realizing that I didn't check in with Jim and I will never forget. And I've always learned to don't assume people are okay, check in with them. You never know what you can learn by simply asking.
Mark Graban (7m 5s):
It's great that he spoke up right. To help rather than just quitting, or I don't know if this was mainly, you might have ghosted you and you would have been wondering, okay, when you might've thought, oh, well, oh, Jim was a flake when there was actually something underneath the surface surface, he gave you that gift of that feedback, if you
Erica Dhawan (7m 23s):
Will. That's right. I mean, we live in a world with slow and no responses, or just, if we get pissed off, maybe from someone sending that rude email, we may never respond again. It can make or break relationships today. And so what I learned from that is I got a second chance and I took it and we made the relationship better and we still have a great relationship today. But the key underpinning of that is in our changing world, whether we're face to face and hybrid settings or virtual, we have to remember that taking the time to value others means showing. I hear you. I appreciate you.
Erica Dhawan (8m 3s):
And I want to hear from you
Mark Graban (8m 5s):
Was an and you know, and then this podcast, we reflect on mistakes. And we, we think about, you know, how did we learn? It was a mistake and what can we do different going forward? I mean, were you being a little too hard on yourself when you said your behavior was terrible? Was that blanket statement terrible or is it just depend on needing to know the needs and the communication style of the different people that you're working with?
Erica Dhawan (8m 30s):
You know, I would say in that case, it was, my behavior was blind. I was blind to some of the signals I was sending that were not engaging jam were not showing appreciation for his hard work. And one of the things I would say that made a terrible is I've been in that seat too. And I having my first job on wall street and then Lehman brothers when I was 22 years old and getting these terrible messages from my boss, like we need to talk dot, dot dot, or in all caps, call me now. And I remember feeling the anxiety rush through me and the pressure to perform and having sleepless nights, if I got this angry message from a manager.
Erica Dhawan (9m 18s):
And I think at the end of the day, because I had been there too, I could have known better. And you know, we all know empathy is about stepping into the shoes of another while remaining in your own shoes, but in today's world, I like to say empathy is reading messages carefully and writing clearly. And so what I've learned through his favorite mistake is that we have to almost upgrade those skills for our modern times. It's not just about being in the room with one another and having good eye contact. It's, it's being careful and thoughtful and in an entirely new way,
Mark Graban (9m 48s):
You think about that vague message that comes in on a Friday. I received one of those you're you're making me think of something recently where one of the organizations I work with, one of the leaders sent a message that said, basically like, oh, we need the schedule, time to talk next Monday. And the bad habit that I'm trying to break. The mistake that I'm trying to, to stop making is my brain leaping to thinking somehow something awful is going to happen. And it li I, I, you know, I tried to at least bring up the point of like, well, what's the meeting going to be about? And it turned out it was nothing really to worry about, but I might've fretted about it all weekend, which again could be my mistake, but at least I was able to clear that up.
Erica Dhawan (10m 29s):
I have another one for you have a boss that, that reviewed some materials from his team member and to be sort of hip and cool. What he did was as, as boss, he wrote an email back saying, thanks for this. Let's talk on monday.dot dot with three ellipses. And for this boss, he's, he's a gen, X-er the.dot.is like sort of casual, hang on, you know, continue the conversation. But this employee was a digital native who grew up in not only at AOL, I am like us smart, but many other tools. Facebook was there throughout middle school. And for digital natives, ellipses is actually the most passive aggressive punctuation mark.
Erica Dhawan (11m 13s):
It can signal resentment for digital natives. So this team member thought the boss was being passive aggressive the entire weekend. And it ruined four days before they actually had a conversation. So it's just an example that, that helps us all remember that in today's world, body languages and disappeared, it's just transformed. And we have to be thoughtful of what signals we're sending, but also to assume good intentions of others, as you said,
Mark Graban (11m 41s):
Assume good intent. And don't assume the worst is going to happen. Yeah. Well, one of the questions is just getting into details. Cause one thing I've heard, like let's say texting a reply that says that great, that that's great versus that's great period. Why does that period at the end of the text message supposedly sends such a strong signal? What does, what does that saying to the recipient sometimes?
Erica Dhawan (12m 8s):
Well, we all know that punctuation is quite formal and platforms like, like email. And I would actually say the last year it's become more informal, even an email as well, but in texting, it's much more informal and shorthand. And one of the things that has become common is if you put a period at the end of a text, it can imply either anger or frustration instead of the end of a sentence. And, and a lot of this does come from instant messaging culture and how we may never really end our instant messages normally with full punctuation in good grammar at the end. And so what I have learned is that we have to be conscious of these different punctuation marks we use.
Erica Dhawan (12m 53s):
For example, a period at the end of a text for some can feel like anger, frustration for others. It can just feel like good grammar. That's the end of a sentence. I know my father uses it that way. He starts his texts with dear Erica and EDS would love that. And I've just grown through it because it's his love of the letter. And another one, mark is all caps. If we write in all caps, what does that mean in a text for some that can feel like shouting for others, it can feel like excitement. And for others, it can feel like urgency. And again, we're going to go to my father it's because he doesn't know how to uncap a text message. Another one exclamations, multiple exclamations for some one can be like general enthusiasm. Five can feel like shouting or excitement and we can read it differently.
Erica Dhawan (13m 36s):
And what did I learned is that a lot of this depends on two things who was more second can, how much do we trust each other? So if you have more power, you have an opportunity actually, to create more intimacy. And in formality with someone who has less power, you can use these tools, whether it's emoji, an emoji to throw in that level of engagement. But if you put a period at the end of a text with someone you've never met, and then they may read into that, maybe be conscious of it and avoid it at the same time. You know, if there's low trust and you're getting all caps messages, try not to read into them, it could be just that they're typing fast. Or for example, I just heard recently someone on an airplane writing in all caps about to take off and their teammate freaking out, but it was really just because they were typing fast.
Mark Graban (14m 24s):
Yeah. I mean, going back to early days of, of online etiquette, email message boards, things that I use during college. Yeah. The, the all caps has been bad etiquette almost from the beginning or it, it leads to the mockery of, you know, incompetence of what's the opposite of a digital native like, oh, you don't know how to use your computer, but it could be either
Erica Dhawan (14m 51s):
That's right. It's kind of like the equivalent of being an EarthLink or Hotmail address. And I'm not going to judge too much because I've been there. I've used all caps before, so I'm dating myself. But I, what I did learn is that it is important to just take a second, second to be thoughtful about the signals we're sending out there and also to avoid getting emotionally hijacked when you get ambiguous messages from others.
Mark Graban (15m 19s):
And we talk about, and you've mentioned, you know, some of these mistakes that you've made with digital communication, I've made some of those mistakes with the book. And again, the title is digital body language. How much of what you write about in the book is born from your own experiences and experiences of people you've worked with versus research into these, these new modes of digital communication.
Erica Dhawan (15m 44s):
Mark. I think this book is both a lot, has been a lifelong journey of observation and practice both as a, as a child and working professional, as well as a really grounded in research and statistics on how the tone of our emails can be misinterpreted up to 50% of the time and how that clicked for seven milliseconds of a first impression that happens. Face-to-face happens in just a few seconds. Again, in a zoom meeting, I grew up as a shy and introverted girl and my parents were Indian immigrants. So at home we spoke Hindi, which meant as a kid, we, I had accepted English at school and I'll never forget as a kid, you know, really struggling to find my voice and using body language to really understand how to juggle cultures and languages.
Erica Dhawan (16m 36s):
I watch the popular girls with their heads high, the cool kids slouching during school assemblies. And it really taught me that it's not what we say. It's how we say it. And fast forward 30 years as a communications and collaboration expert, I found that about four or five years ago, I kept hearing the same challenges from clients saying, why is there so much misunderstanding at work or how do we better connect with different ages and working styles? And one of the things I realized was that there was no rule book for the body of our language in a digital world. So just like I was an immigrant to traditional body language as a kid today, we are all immigrants to digital body language. That's why it's really a lifelong journey of exploration and observation, as well as grounded in the newest research on why we need the skill more than ever to thrive in our new era.
Mark Graban (17m 25s):
And you talk about, you know, these different areas and, you know, I, in a way I might, you know, I'm, I'm gen X, but I grew up with computers I'm in a way a digital native, but those were not connected computers. Yeah. I didn't have email to my second quarter in college. And there's, there's a certain, you know, now, you know, the, the, the, the connected age, it's, it's just interesting to think how these, these different formative experiences we have maybe lead to different expectations or, or different habits. And so, you know, all the earlier generations, I think this is the question I was trying to get to my mistake.
Mark Graban (18m 6s):
There's writing online. And now we're increasingly in a mode of interacting via video, especially accelerated with the pandemic. I mean, what are some of the things that you've found are the biggest mistakes when it comes to, you know, zoom meetings or being on teams or whatever the platform is mistakes with digital body language and video meetings.
Erica Dhawan (18m 32s):
So one of the things I learned through my research was that digital body language is not simply how we show up on a video screen. It's about how we make others feel in a modern marketplace, whether it's email, text, I am or video. And then the last year we have video calls as the norm, not the exception. And I think in many ways they have been a brilliant way to build that emotional nuance back when we can't be face-to-face at the same time. I think one of the things we've learned is that it's very easy to default, to too many video calls, a lack of thought in the design of those video calls. And maybe sometimes we don't need to be on video all the time.
Erica Dhawan (19m 12s):
For example, there was a recent Stanford study that showed that that zoom fatigue is real. And it's also high for women. It's also high for introverts who did not want to be dealing with body language as well, but are having to navigate being on a screen all the time. I have also seen that the last year of calls have also been good in many ways to redesign meetings. I like to say that the last year has forced us all to think more like TV show hosts instead of office hosts, where we have to have thoughtful agendas. We really want to get people to the point in the meeting where we need to start every meeting clarifying.
Erica Dhawan (19m 52s):
Why is everyone in this meeting? What would we like to achieve at the end? How will we engage others? And simple things like the virtual chat tool to avoid turn-taking to allow introverts, to not have to fight for their voice, to be heard, to use virtual whiteboards, to allow everyone to brainstorm together are actually speeding up innovation and inclusion in a way that our face-to-face meetings were not doing in the past. And I'll really sum it up with one story. I'll never forget pre pandemic. I was on a conference call. Three of us were remote, and three people were in the office and it wasn't until the 26 minutes of a 30 minute meeting that someone in the office said, does anyone on the phone have something to share? We had been excluded the entire time. And I think that's really just one example that brings to life the power of the video call.
Erica Dhawan (20m 35s):
But again, now knowing when to have them and when to just offer a phone call is also important. It's
Mark Graban (20m 41s):
Interesting. You bring up the, the opportunities for nonverbal communication, digital whiteboards, and chat. I'm a Myers-Briggs introvert and yeah, you're right. Sometimes it is hard to sort of to get that word in edge wise. And, you know, if the meeting facilitators, not looking for the body language that you can at least see on video compared to a dial-in conference call of like mark kind of leaned in, it looked like he opened his mouth. Like he wanted to say something, maybe I'll call on him. That would be part of being that good TV.
Erica Dhawan (21m 16s):
That's right. I mean, I think in many ways we have to design for engagement. I have a client who always sends an agenda with questions in advance of the meeting. Then during the meeting, she says, I'd like everyone to share their answers on the chat or in a virtual whiteboard first. And everyone shares it writing first, this does a few things. One, we tend to think more in a more concise way. If we write it first and then speak to she avoided group thing. Research shows that, you know, extroverts usually share first and you're getting a lot of bias out of that. And people tend to agree with each other versus getting cognitive diversity. So what she does is once everyone's shared in writing, she calls on people with the most diverse or different perspectives.
Erica Dhawan (21m 57s):
And then she always makes sure to call on people that she hasn't heard from on a regular basis. This, again, really avoids that general bias that we'd often feel otherwise.
Mark Graban (22m 8s):
And when we think about good meeting design or good meeting behavior, some of that is, you know, classic advice updated for the modern age, but then there were some other circumstances that that might be new. Let's see. And I've been as guilty of this as anybody, you know, the, the, the mistake of multitasking during a meeting, it's obvious like when you're in a conference room and if you're on your computer or on your phone or staring at your watch or whatever bad body language might come out for people who are doing digital multitasking during an online meeting, I guess the question is, are they really fooling anyone or is their body language giving it away?
Erica Dhawan (22m 55s):
No digital multitasking is at all time highs. And let's be honest, it's easier. We're right in front of our screens. And, and, you know, we don't have that direct eye contact where it's, it's much easier to stop multitasking. My general rule of thumb here is people do notice, be present. Simple things can help with this. First is don't have 30 and 60 minute meetings have 20 minute and 45 minute meetings often with a thoughtful agenda. You'll get to the point quickly and you'll leave those 10 minutes for people to catch up on email or catch up on other things. I think actually setting some standards can be helpful here. Secondly, if someone doesn't need to be in that meeting anymore, initiate what I call the zoom BCC as, so like an email, we BCC someone out, we move them out.
Erica Dhawan (23m 42s):
So it doesn't clog their inbox. If someone doesn't need to be on a meeting anymore, just BCC them in the chat. So they know they can casually me versus this awkward fear of guilt that we have to be in every meeting and listening all the time, which creates more multitasking. And last but not least, I think at the end of the day, meaning hosts have to really design to avoid multitasking, a simple examples. Like the one I shared where everyone needs to share in the chat together, or sending some norms up front saying you will cold call on people will tend to avoid those behaviors. But also other things such as saying, you know, at the beginning of a meeting, here's what we'd like to achieve at the end of the meeting. Here's how I'm going to engage all of you. And if we also do present, I'm going to end the meeting 10 minutes early, that will quickly avoid multitasking because it's about valuing others.
Erica Dhawan (24m 27s):
And today that's valuing their time, their inboxes and their schedules.
Mark Graban (24m 30s):
And I think recently, because of all of these online meetings, there's a phrase that seems to appear more on t-shirts or memes or coffee mugs or whatever this meeting could have been an email. And what are some of your criteria? You know, you, you hinted at this earlier about meeting design and by the way, what are some of your guidelines for having a meeting versus sending out something that's more one directional communication realizing people can reply, but should it be a meeting or an email? How would you decide? Yeah,
Erica Dhawan (25m 5s):
Absolutely. Well, we've had way too many meetings that should be emails. We've also had way too many emails that should be meetings or quick phone calls. We've had way too many texts, exchanges that could be quick phone calls. And, and so I think it runs the gamut. And so much of digital body language is not only knowing how to engage within each digital channel, but when to switch the channel as well. So let's start with the meetings. What are, what are the, really the rules of when to have a meeting? I think meetings make decisions. They're not for information sharing. People can read that in, in emails before and after meetings, but meetings really should really be for the nuance of making decisions.
Erica Dhawan (25m 46s):
And I really recommend in every meeting, especially virtual or hybrid, we need to make clear and everyone needs to be able to answer, why am I in this meeting or conversation? It needs to be scheduled for the minimal time required. I recommend the 20 to 40 minute meeting start and end on time. Always have a clear agenda. And, you know, knowing you don't and know how to regularly cancel recurring meetings that just keep getting are on the calendar last but not least. I recommend sort of knowing when you need to move from a meeting to almost like a virtual co-working session. One of my clients started virtual office hours. He found that his teammates kept scheduling 30 minute phone calls for five minute questions.
Erica Dhawan (26m 28s):
So he said every Wednesday, 10 to 11, we'll get on a zoom. And we'll co-work. And if you have a question, just ask me like we are in the office and it's solved problems that would get delayed for weeks and get delayed for that 30 minute discussion. So knowing you need to have that meeting when you need that sort of coworking space and when you can really off or the email or the I am is incredibly important when it comes to emails. I like to say, get to the point quickly. The subject line should have a clear description of what the email is about. Remember people read emails like websites, so be thoughtful of the body of your email. Do you use Bolden, underline headings? Did you get to the point quickly? No one wants to read prose and email and last but not least, if we go to even texts, I am get to the point quickly.
Erica Dhawan (27m 13s):
Don't use them for endless. Chit-chat really use them more for quick urgent messages, and it can be very helpful to know that meetings should really be more for that nuance and brainstorming emails should be for those recaps and information sharing. And those quick I am texting discussion should really be more for that casual chit chat that we would have had normally face-to-face that we would now have in those formats online.
Mark Graban (27m 38s):
And one other thing I would plea for, you know, people are sending long emails, or if they're writing a long blog posts, please use the return key. Like don't write a big 20 sentence, long paragraph, giant block of texts. Like that's, that's very hard to read.
Erica Dhawan (27m 55s):
I know, I know, you know, that's even what I struggled with writing a print book, digital body language, when you can see from my book, I even tried to put in visuals and boxes of examples. I think, remember remembering that we're all reading like websites now, even as we go back to face-to-face, we'll think in bullet points and whether that's good or not, I think we have to know it's here to stay.
Mark Graban (28m 16s):
So there's a couple other questions I'm going to ask you while I've got you. Erica. One is every team it seems, or it's quite likely, there's, there's one person who just never wants to turn on their video and they're not comfortable with it. Do you have advice for that situation?
Erica Dhawan (28m 35s):
So we've all been there, right? We're on video, someone joins on off video, and then all of a sudden we're like, should we stay on video? Do we ask them to go on video? Do we go off video? And, and I think my general rule of thumb here is, you know, we're not two months into this. We're a year, more than a year into this. And it's the job of the meeting host to really set expectations. If you want people on video, let them know in the agenda before what was implicit and traditional body language has to be explicit in digital body language. You don't want to create an opt-in. You want to create an opt-out I, you know, and I've seen simple things like if you want people to be on video, maybe it's a screen-share for most of the time you could say, I love everyone on video for the first 10 minutes.
Erica Dhawan (29m 19s):
So we can create that emotional connection. Then you can go off video if you'd like, or the last 10 minutes during a team discussion portion. Sometimes that is enough. Cause people feel exhausted of being on video all the time. Another thing is just making sure it's clear when video on is important and when it's not, and, and last but not least remember, we don't need a video for everything, certain cases that it is really effective and others where it can actually be much easier to be on video. Like even bandwidth.
Mark Graban (29m 47s):
Yeah. Listeners may have heard earlier. We had some audio breakups where I edited out some of that and Erica and I decided to just turn the video off and do an audio only episode that that same thing happens in meeting sometimes unfortunate.
Erica Dhawan (30m 3s):
Right. But Margaret, because we had that initial video interaction, it feels no different.
Mark Graban (30m 8s):
And, and you, yeah, we did a pre-call we had our pre-chat before we started recording today. And you know, I think being on video helps build rapport and helps give you a better sense of someone's personality and their enthusiasm for having a discussion about something even like mistakes. So, but I think, yeah, well, I I'll be able to publish, you know, the, the, your, your favorite mistake story and the first part of that as a video, even though we won't have the entire episode. So that's, that's not all lost, I guess. So the other thing I wanted to ask you, Erica, like me, you're doing virtual speaking engagements now, and, you know, w the world's opening up again, but, you know, maybe there's still going to be a place for virtual speaking because it eliminates travel costs and travel time.
Mark Graban (31m 2s):
Are there some mistakes within the realm of virtual speaking that, that you might want to share with the audience here?
Erica Dhawan (31m 11s):
No, I'll never forget the power of reading body language in a room as a speaker in person. You know, when someone has crossed arms, maybe they were disengaged, or if they are smiling and excited. I know they really love the content. If they're leaning back or slouching, maybe I know I need to do an engagement exercise to get them back into the conversation as I keynote. And, and these signals and cues were critical in being successful in person speaker. What I've learned as a virtual speaker is that there are a few things that really matter. Number one engagement is not only about asking thoughtful questions to an audience when in a case, but really having them participate with you.
Erica Dhawan (31m 57s):
I think if it's possible in every single session that I'm doing, I'm trying to get the hundreds of people to share their thoughts in the chat. Whether it's an example of referring back to an example, I shared, whether it's their top digital body language, pet pee, whether it's one action or commitment they're taking away from the session. And so it truly feels like a dialogue together and a collective experience versus a one-way talk. And I'll tell you, mark, I have found it to be even more impactful than it ever was. Face-to-face because hundreds of people are sharing back with me versus me just being on a stage. The other thing I have learned about virtual speaking is that it does really matter too.
Erica Dhawan (32m 40s):
When you're looking into the camera research shows, we make eye contact about 30 to 60% of the time face-to-face, but when we're on screen, I recommend looking into the camera about 60% of the time, even though we can't feel that connection with others, they could feel a better connection with us. And last but not least, I think third thing I've learned is that visuals really matter to tell the story. And if you were sort of a bombastic gregarious speaker and you could use your traditional body language to sort of lead the charge, Tony Robbins style, face-to-face, this is the time to really upgrade and how you use visual cues, whether it's beautifully designed slides or an interactive poll or a game that can really amp your game and engaging others, no matter the distance.
Mark Graban (33m 27s):
And that's, that's all really great advice. The, the, the book again, and we've been joined today by Erica Dhawan, the books titled digital body language. And I love the subtitle here, how to build trust and connection, no matter the distance. I think, you know, it's, it's, I th I've found, I'm curious your thought, maybe we'll leave this as last question, like working as a coach and an advisor, as I know you do as well. I think there's a difference between like ongoing virtual sessions with people you've previously worked with in person versus people, you know, of this past year and a half where the relationship has only been digital, you know, so I'm curious your thoughts on, and I'm sure this is covered in the book.
Mark Graban (34m 14s):
So I do encourage people to, to check this out, but maybe, you know, like one, one tip or thought on trying to help build trust through these digital channels.
Erica Dhawan (34m 26s):
I do agree. I think that for those that started relationships in person and then adapted to a virtual world, it was easier. There was higher levels of trust. Initially, we had that first impression already pre-built into that relationship. So when something got confused, when someone wrote a terse message, call me now, we didn't initially jump to judgment that they're a terrible person. We knew whether to pick up the phone and have that quick discussion and that good intent was there. I think that when it comes to virtual first relationships, which is not only something that I think we've done more of in the pandemic, but for those that had remote businesses or e-commerce businesses, this is mainly how they've always worked.
Erica Dhawan (35m 9s):
Now. We're just all doing it with them. I think that what is really important is to remember that you do have a virtual executive presence and that it does show up. And there are some things that really matter when it comes to showcasing good virtual executive presence. The third, the first thing I like to say that I call the four laws of digital body language is that we have to value others visibly for building new, make sure their time is respected. You're acknowledging them. You are creating a space where they feel comfortable, voicing concerns, read into if you're reading video, body language cues. Are they confused?
Erica Dhawan (35m 50s):
Are they looking down? Are they engaged and nodding? This will allow you to understand how to pivot and adapt to them. The second is communicate carefully. I think always making sure in meetings and emails, there's a common understanding of priorities and next steps you're being thoughtful of even the visual nature of your emails, just as much as you would and how you show up on a video. And you're using clear language to get on the same page. The third is collaborate competently. So this is all about prioritizing thoughtfulness over hastiness, making sure you're not rushing your messages. I'll never forget. I sent a message to a leader saying, do you want to speak Wednesday or Thursday? And the response was yes.
Erica Dhawan (36m 30s):
And I like to say reading messages carefully is the new listening and writing clearly is the new equity and forth last but not least. I call it the fourth law is trust totally, which is all about giving others. The benefit of the doubt, create those moments for informal social connection. We have vulnerable yourself and it will give others the permission to do the same. And when we, when we get time to sort of just break down our own barriers and be natural online, stop reading from a script just to engage with others, they will feel permission. And that connection back.
Mark Graban (37m 1s):
That's great advice, Erica. And I know the book from what I've seen, the book is a really full of that. So I want to congratulate you on the release of the book. Congratulations on making the wall street journal bestseller list. How, how high did it get? I, the number I have might be out of date or inaccurate, but I know it was on there.
Erica Dhawan (37m 21s):
And number three of the wall street journal bestseller list. And I am so grateful to be on mark. I really believe that all of us that spent years mastering traditional body language with books, courses on the job back now is the moment when we can really all really master our muscles and our skills and digital body language.
Mark Graban (37m 41s):
Thank you again for sharing so much with us today, Erica, you go to show the introverted kids can become good communicators. So thank you also for, for, for demonstrating that
Erica Dhawan (37m 53s):
Even the best communicators, because they learned how to be a written communicator before a verbal communicator
Mark Graban (37m 60s):
And written form paper or a hardcover book and ebook Digital Body Language, how to build trust and connection. No matter the distance we've been joined again today by Erica Dhawan, her website is Ericadhawan.com that those links will be in the show notes. So Erica, thank you. Thank you again for being a guest today. Really enjoyed
Erica Dhawan (38m 20s):
It. Thank you so much for having me.
Mark Graban (38m 23s):
Thanks again to Erica Dhawan for being such a great guest today. For more information about her and her work, you can find links and more at markgraban.com/mistake91. Again, for the first of this episodes release, there is a contest that you can enter to win a free copy of the book. So again, for that, go to markgraban.com/mistake91. As always, I want to thank you for listening. I hope this podcast inspires you to reflect on your own mistakes, how you can learn from them or turn them into a positive I've had listeners tell me that they started being more open and honest about mistakes in their work. And they're trying to create a workplace culture where it's safe to speak up about problems because that leads to more improvement and better business results.
Mark Graban (39m 8s):
If you have feedback or a story to share, you can email me my favorite mistake firstname.lastname@example.org. And again, our website is myfavoritemistakepodcast.com.