Awkward break in a zoom call. Vague, vague email. Context Free Meeting Invitation. When online interactions are so easily misunderstood, effective communication is essential. As the author of the new book Digital body language, Erica Dhawan, MBA ’12, is training corporate leaders to seamlessly connect with clients from the US Army to Pepsi to Deloitte in this new era of remote work.
His mission is deeply personal, rooted in the memory of being a cowardly elementary school student in Pittsburgh.
“My parents were Indian immigrants, which means we used to speak Hindi at home. When I went to school, I was the quietest child in the class, ”she recalls. “One of the strengths I developed because I was so shy was the ability to observe and interpret body language. I used to see popular girls tilting their heads, leaning on cool boys during school assemblies. I’ve really tried to assimilate into the world of American body language. “
Fast-forward 30 years, and he’s using that hard-won insight to decode a digital-first world where visual and written signals are more important than ever. In addition to his writing, he has delivered keynote speeches at the Fortune 500 company ধরে for the past five years, at a rate of 40 to 70 discussions per year.
“We are all immigrants to the world of digital body language,” he says “I am committed to building a movement of knowledge and training for what I believe will be the skills of the new post-epidemic era.”
These skills depend on what he calls connective intelligence. The idea, which prioritizes deep, quality interactions, contrasts sharply with the general measure of virtual success: the number of Twitter followers, LinkedIn connections, or daily zoom meetings.
“We live in a digital communication crisis, where the response is to connect more than to connect intelligently,” he says. People with coherent intelligence understand which meetings to call and when to look directly at the camera during zoom in to signal attention: “They know that conciseness never has to be confused with clarity, new reading with attention and new writing with clarity. “Sympathy.”
The new epidemic-inspired ways of working, he believes, could make workplaces “more geographically inclusive, less inclined to traditional body language, and more creative in engaging anyone, anywhere, to be part of the solution.”
Dhawan has two children and enjoys Bollywood dancing in his spare time. As she danced, she said with a smile, “Everything has taught me that everything is a performance when we connect with others.”