Erica Dhawan, the author of Digital Body Language, grew up in Pittsburgh, the child of Indian immigrants. Shy, communicating in a mix of accented English and broken Hindi, she got good at reading people's body language.
How did the popular girls express confidence through the gestures and posture? What did friendliness look like? What was an invitation to connect, and what was a warning to stay clear?
It's a truism in psychology and communication science that the words we speak represent a small fraction of the meanings we convey. Through facial expressions, gestures, muscle tension or relaxation, and tone of voice, we communicate a wide range of emotions that let people know where we're at and how they should approach us.
And then the internet happened.
And we're facing a crisis of miscommunication.
If you've ever received an email that you didn't know how to interpret – is this person mad at me, or just pressed for time? – you've experienced the digital communication gap.
What about those three pulsing dots when someone's replying to your text message? What does it mean when they pulse for minutes at a time? Are they thinking of a reply? Are they conflicted about what to say to you? Did they forget all about you?
How long should you wait before calling? Is it unprofessional to use emojis in a work email? How should you word a Slack message when the other person has ignored your last five? What should you include in your video background? Can you eat during a Zoom meeting?
Dhawan has written the definitive guide to digital “body language” – those non-verbal elements that contain much of our mood, intent, and energy. In our conversation, we talk about why mastering this new tongue is crucial to anyone who wants to make a positive impact on the world.
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New Audiobook: Use the Weight to Lose the Weight
Listen to Josh LaJaunie and me narrate our latest audiobook, about how to start moving when you're obese.
It's $10, and Josh and I split it evenly 🙂
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The Plant Yourself Podcast theme music, “Dance of Peace (Sabali Don),” is generously provided by Will Ridenour, a kora player from North Carolina who has trained with top Senegalese musicians.
It can be found on his first CD, titled Will Ridenour.
You can learn about Will, listen to more tracks, and buy music on his website, WillRidenour.com.
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