Digital Body Language by Erica Dhawan | Book Review

“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—things we mostly think of as the field of operations for professional writers.”

Email replies that show up a week later. Video chats full of ‘can you hear me?!’ Ambiguous text-messages. Weird punctuation you can’t make heads or tails of. Is it any wonder communication takes us so much time and effort to figure out? How did we lose our innate capacity to understand each other?

Humans 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 – or are they? In real life, we lean in, uncross our arms, smile, nod and make eye contact to show we listen and care. Online, reading carefully is the new listening. Writing clearly is the new empathy. And a phone or video call is worth a thousand emails.

In Digital Body Language, Erica Dhawan—a go-to thought leader on collaboration and a passionate communication junkie—combines cutting edge research with engaging storytelling to decode the new signals and cues that have replaced traditional body language.

37. Digital Body Language

As Dhawan quotes from a study: Today, roughly 70% of all communication among teams is virtual. We send around 306 billion emails every day, with the average person sending 30 emails daily and fielding 96. According to the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 50 percent of the time the “tone” of our emails is misinterpreted. The New York Times reports that 43% of working Americans spend at least some time working remotely, a percentage that skyrocketed during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Non-verbal cues make up 60-80% of face-to face communication. How does one create connections when communication takes place digitally? How do we show appreciation? How can we find a respectful balance between busy inboxes and response times and stop them from interrupting face to face interactions? Last but not the least, how can we remain authentic and connected when hidden behind a digital screen?

This is where Digital Body Language becomes important.

You see, these days, we don’t talk the talk or even walk the talk. We write the talk.

Signs that were implicit when communicating in the physical world have to now be made explicit by tailoring the communication we send out to create clear and precise messages.

To explain this, Dhawan first draws the Trust and Power Matrix which indicates the level of trust you have with someone vis-a-vis the level of power shared between you. This helps avoid confusion when managing expectations and deliverables.

Once you’ve identified your position on the Trust and Power Matrix, you have a road map on how to modify your digital body language towards building an effective relationship.

There are four laws to digital body language:
Value Visibly
Communicate Carefully
Collaborate Confidently
Trust Totally

When you work on getting the first three right, their integration yields trust, creating an open culture with all-round engagement amongst teams.

This book, supported by case stories, presents a rulebook with strategies to enhance your digital body language, thereby strengthening your communication.

An important aspect the book covers is the differences in Digital Body Language across gender, generation and culture. What is normal to one, may not be to another which often creates biases. When teams are spread across the globe it is imperative people are able to identify these differences for what they are and work around them to realise potential.

In the new modern workplace not limited to offices, or communication mediums not limited to email, physical and digital body language are inseparable. Digital body language is now reshaping verbal communication and thought, and therefore redefining physical body language.

Providing a better understanding of how digital body language can help build trust and authenticity, this book will transform the way you connect by allowing you to build stronger relationships, be it in your professional space or in your personal relationships.

Digital Body Language: How to Build Trust & Connection, No Matter the Distance by Erica Dhawan. Published in May 2021 by Harper Collins India, HarperCollins Publishers.
Book 37 of 2021.
Aquamarine Flavours Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟.
Available on Amazon*.
About Photo: As Erica Dhawan says, emojis infuse emotions into otherwise flat, one-dimensional digital communication. At the same time, they should be used judiciously. I was trying to find a way to make an emoji fortune teller to pair with this book when I came across one on Simple Made Pretty. I’m keeping this on my desk to tell my emoji fortune for all my digital communication.
This is printed and cut on 220gsm Ivory and folded like a regular origami fortune-teller.
About the Author: Erica Dhawan is a globally recognized leadership expert and keynote speaker helping organizations and leaders innovate faster and further, together. Erica has spoken, worldwide, to organizations and enterprises that range from the World Economic Forum to U.S. and global Fortune 500 companies, associations, sports teams, and government institutions. Named as one of the top management professionals around the world by Global Gurus, she is the founder and CEO of Cotential – a company that has helped leaders and teams leverage twenty-first-century collaboration skills globally. Her writing has appeared in dozens of publications, including Fast Company and Harvard Business Review. She has an MPA from Harvard Kennedy School, MBA from MIT Sloan, and BS from The Wharton School.
Learn more at and follow her on Twitter and Instagram. Join the community at
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*Disclosure: This post contains an affiliate link which means, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase.


2 thoughts on “Digital Body Language by Erica Dhawan | Book Review

  1. Pingback: 2021 and Changing Plans | #BrunchBookChallenge – Aquamarine Flavours

  2. Pingback: My Favourite Reads of 2021 – Aquamarine Flavours

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