“Digital Body Language – How To Gain An Advantage By Reading It Right” – Negotiation Insight

“Confusion may lie within someone’s digital body language. But confusion erodes once you know the secrets to observe.” -Greg Williams, The Master Negotiator & Body Language Expert. (click to Tweet)

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“Digital Body Language

How To Gain An Advantage By Reading It Right”

People don’t realize they’re always negotiating.

There are multiple meanings related to digital body language. One relates to the online activity behavior per how people navigate a website for content. Then, there are the digital body language signals displayed during visual and non-visual calls on Zoom-type platforms. In those environments, people can misperceive the intent of someone’s message due to missed signals. That’s what the following insights address.

First, we’ll uncover why some people miss digital body language signals or misinterpret what they sense. After that, we’ll delve into your digital style and why that’s important. Last, you’ll gain the insights needed to gain an advantage by reading digital body language.

Points Of Possible Confusion

1. Brevity

In some situations, brevity does not serve the greater purpose. I recall a time when a manager received an email from three of her subordinates. They wanted their manager to know about an idea they had to increase sales in their region. The manager, being in a hurry, responded, “sounds good.”

The subordinates understood that to mean, pursue your ideas. So, they invested their time in furthering their thoughts. When they submitted a report to their manager a week later, she said, why did you waste time doing this? To which they replied, you said it sounds good, referring to her email response.

In digital environments, people must consider how someone communicates a message. They must also consider how someone might receive that information. If there are no facial or tonal intonations to add to one’s communications, it can become unclear.   

2. Punctuation

Question: What’s the meaning of  ‘. . .’, or a ‘?’, or a single ‘.’ in a statement? Answer: It depends on the intent. And not knowing the meaning is what can lead to confusion in understanding digital body language communications. That, in turn, can lead to not only misperception per intent, but it can also be the cause of disruptiveness.

Always be sure the recipient of your non-digital body language messages understands its purpose and meaning. That’s more important in digital environments due to the information missing from not being in face-to-face settings.  

3. Misperception

He didn’t get the joke and thought the deliverer of it had personally demeaned him. In a digital environment, the opportunity exists greater to become misperceived. And when that occurs, the gest of one’s message can get lost. That can lead to individuals talking past one another while not communicating at all.

When communicating digitally, possess a heightened sense of someone possibly misperceiving your message. Having that awareness and adopting actions to correct possible misperception will save you grief in the long run.   

Digital Style

When people are in virtual environments with cameras on, they adopt a particular persona than when cameras are not on. And that may be more pronounced when communicating via email. The adopted persona positions individuals to become perceived in a specific manner. Thus, depending on the environment, people may project themselves in one way versus another. That’s to assure their persona aligns, or not, with the norms of the group.

Since everyone has a digital style, you must understand what’s normal for them and when it becomes altered. Once you know someone’s digital style base, look for interactions that cause them to change it. By doing so, you’ll gain an advantage during your engagement by understanding the mindset they possess. That’ll also allow you to control some of their actions.

Observance And Actions

Okay, now you’re aware of the sources of confusion that can cause an individual to misunderstand someone’s digital body language. The mentioned insights also delved into the importance of understanding someone’s digital style. So, what should you observe to read someone’s digital body language?

1. Observe how people speak. Also, notice the pace at which people talk. In particular, note the words they use to express themselves and to what degree they may stammer. And if they do, when they do. Registering those occurrences will allow you insight into when they may become nervous per the topic discussed.

2. Look for hidden cues that people display through their body language. While you may only see facial expressions, take note of what key people in the environment display. Their reactions will impact the tone and flow of the conversation.  

In particular, note when they smile, frown, interrupt another speaker, etc. When they do, they’ll be showing their inner thoughts about the proceedings. Reading their digital body language in that manner will allow you to align your position to suit your purpose better.

3. When receiving emails, observe the sender’s tone, along with its timing. Assess to what degree it may demand something of you and the words used to do so. Also, consider the urgency associated with the request and if the style is friendly, hostile, or neutral. Viewing the communication from that perspective will give you a sense of urgency and the best way to respond.


As the world becomes more digitally connected, you must pay more attention to the digital body language signals you and others emit. With the passing of each day, those signals impact the perception of you and those with whom you communicate. That affects your life and your business dealings. Take heed and practice the preceding insights. They’ll assist you in becoming more aware of how you convey your digital body language. Doing so will increase your awareness of others and their awareness of you. And everything will be right with the world.   

Remember, you’re always negotiating!

Remember, you’re always negotiating!

Listen to Greg’s podcast at https://c-suitenetwork.com/radio/shows/greg-williams-the-master-negotiator-and-body-language-expert-podcast/

After reading this article, what are you thinking? I’d like to know. Reach me at Greg@TheMasterNegotiator.com

To receive Greg’s free “Negotiation Tip of the Week” and the “Negotiation Insight,” click here https://themasternegotiator.com/greg-williams/

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