Digital Body Language Meaning (Full Guide)

  • By: Phil Taylor
  • Time to read: 14 min.

Digital body language is the new form of communication. It’s a form of nonverbal communication that people use through their devices.

Digital body language is an important part of our lives. We use it in our personal and professional lives every day. For example, when we are at work, we might be texting or talking to someone on a call while also checking emails and browsing social media sites.

We can’t give 100% attention to everything that is going on around us because we have so much going on in front of us.

This can lead to misunderstandings with people who are trying to communicate digitally because they know what is going on behind the scenes, but the intention could be totally different.

Understand Digital Body Language.

The future of digital body language will depend on how technology continues to evolve and change our day-to-day lives.

When we interact with others, we use both verbal and nonverbal communication. Nonverbal communication includes our body language, the way we dress, and the way we use our voice. It also includes the way we use digital communication, like emails, texts, and social media.

Digital body language is the nonverbal communication we use online. It includes the way we present ourselves in our profile pictures, the tone of our posts, and the way we respond to others. When we use digital body language, we are creating an image of ourselves that others can see.

Just like with traditional body language, digital body language can be positive or negative. If we use positive digital body language, we come across as confident and friendly. If we use negative digital body language, we come across as awkward and nervous.

Some examples of positive digital body language are: – Congratulating someone on their success or accomplishment over Zoom or Microsoft Teams chat with a smiley emoji or a thumbs up to say you like it.

An example of negative digital body language is not replying to an email, and sending a meeting request late at night with a short heading like Accounts First Thing 08:00 am.

This kind of meeting at short notice and with very little context will definitely peak your curiosity and would worry most.

What is Digital Body Language?

Digital body language is a term used to describe the ways in which people communicate through their body language in digital settings. This can include the use of email, text messages or phone calls and it highlights the overall tone and demeanour of an individual.

Digital body language is more than just appearing on Zoom or at a Teams meeting. It’s how we use our punctuation, response times, how we sign off our emails, our virtual backgrounds, and more.

Trust is essential to an online marketplace. It’s what builds your reputation and helps you maintain a successful business and digital body language has a really big part to play in your success.

I don’t know about you but there have been plenty of times in my life where I get a message from my boss requesting a meeting or a task and its a couple of words or they have sent an email with just the title and no body of text.

If a boss emails you and it’s hard to understand what they mean, it can be daunting. Do you respond right away? Do you bother to contact them for more information? In this post, we will explore these questions in-depth.

Some Ways To Think About Digital Body Langauge.

How Did They Send Their Message?

When we talk about digital mediums, we are talking about how a person chooses to communicate with you. There are a number of ways people can contact you formally and informally, and a blend of both.

The modern world uses a variety of technologies to stay connected to one another. They are email, phone calls, video conferencing (ZOOM, Zoom Audio, Microsoft Teams) and many types of instant messaging like Whatsapp DM’s, PMs, tweets and much more.

How we reply and what form of digital communication we use is becoming more and more important.

Understand The Hierarchy

The first rule of digital body language is to understand the hierarchy of communication and it is formal (business/work) or personal (family/friends)

If it’s your boss, then the power play stays with them. They may request or send emails that are short and vague, and there may be many reasons for this.

You have to try and understand where they are coming from. They may be pressed for time or stressed about a meeting, they may not be aware of how they are requesting or communicating digitally and totally oblivious to the position they have put you in. We’ll explore a few ideas here to help with this issue later on.

If you get a message from a friend or family member, this is usually done through Whatsapp, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or other forms of social media.

How you reply to your friends and family will differ from how you reply to a work colleague. You’ll be a lot more informal, using emojis and elaborate punctuation.

Next, we will take a look at how to correctly reply in the digital age.

Understand Trust In Digital Body language.

It’s not just about understanding what people are saying to you, it’s also about understanding what they’re not saying. And understanding digital body language is a crucial part of this.

If you have high trust in a person a message can read in a different way than if you have low trust in a person.

For example, You get the message “when will I receive the report?” from your boss, who you’ve only known for two weeks. You know the report isn’t due until next week, as agreed.

This message could be misinterpreted because you haven’t built the trust yet.

On the other hand the same message “when will I receive the report?” comes from a place of trust. You know your boss is going away for a week and they are just checking in everything will be on time and is ok.

Same message, different outcome. Trust is critical when it comes to digital body language and its meaning.

How To Reply In The Digital World.

When you first reply it’s always best as a rule of thumb to reply to the message on the same medium as you received it. For example, if you got an email from your boss reply to the email, and they text your reply by text.

When we talked about hierarchy and what digital way they communicated you want to follow their lead in digital body language always.

Respect everyone by fully acknowledging the fact that they work in a digital world and these are the secrets that will keep you ahead in good stead with your team and people around you.

How soon or fast do you typically reply to messages?

How fast you reply can have many different interpretations depending on who you are replying to. Let’s take for example your boss, if you reply too fast it could be seen as you have nothing to do. However, on the flip side, it could mean you are dropping everything to reply quickly to be seen as a good employee.

It’s tricky to get the balance, right? This is where trust, familiarity and hierarchy come into play. Over time, you will understand your boss’s requirements; they will let you know with comments if you didn’t reply for five hours or don’t you have anything to do? As soon as you hear their reply, you have your answer to what their requirements are without asking them.

There is a better way to do this, which is to set up rules between team members to stop confusion and streamline the process. However, these are often unwritten rules that come into play. We will take a look at these unwritten rules later on in this article.

If you’re replying to a friend, you can take your time, you don’t need to be at their beckoned call, they know you’re busy with life, kids, job, and family. But replying is important and you should not reply if you value their friendship.

Example:

I have a friend called James Wood. When I call him, he rarely picks up the phone; however, I know he’s seen my call because his posting on social media on other friends’ feeds or he posts pictures himself hours after my call. So what’s up with that? Could he not be bothered, too busy, upset with me and the list goes on.

It makes you paranoid, and their actions play on your mind, creating anxiety and slowly eroding friendships. That’s why it’s so important to understand digital body language, to be clear with your messages and how you respond and to what time.

Having said that, maybe your friend hasn’t figured it out or just forgot to reply. Or maybe they don’t really like you, for whatever reason. It’s still a mind field to navigate, armed with the information above. You can now send clear messages to everyone digitally.

So many people are misusing social media and not taking the time to think about the consequences of their actions. People need to be more mindful of their social media usage and the effect it has on those around them.

Next, we will take a look at the unwritten rules of digital body language.

The Hierarchical unwritten rules of digital body language.

There are certain etiquette to how we reply in our professional and personal relationships online or digitally, and it’s usually considered important or valuable. The most basic is the “Etiquette of Reply.” You should always reply in the same thread to ensure continuity, but not before making sure you’re replying you need to understand the unwritten rules.

This is what you need to keep in mind when thinking about how you should send the message and which digital platform.

Digital Communication Hierarchy unwritten rules.

When it comes to importance of a message there are a few unwritten rules to how important that message really is and they go as follows.

  1. Phone calls.
  2. Text message.
  3. Email.
  4. Slack.
  5. Teams.
  6. Whatsapp.
  7. DM or PM Soical Media.

Phone call.

The phone call is the most important and direct way of contacting someone be it a friend family member or a colleague.

  • Socially: Most people who are highly trusted in social circles will use this form of digital contact.
  • Colleagues: will use this for quickness and directness.
  • Clients: will use this to get information quickly.

Text Message.

Text messages are the second most popular way of communicating with another person, behind phone calls. Text messages are seen as more personal and direct they are higher trust levels in both social and professional settings.

Email.

Most people in the business world use email to communicate—it is seen as more formal and you are given more time to reply or to sort out the issue. Text or phone calls are less personal than email.

Slack & Mircosoft Teams.

Slack and Microsoft Teams are becoming much more integrated in professional lives, they are a way of sharing information in real-time but are seen as less important than email, text, or phone calls in some organizations.

Whatsapp Messages.

WhatsApp messages don’t have the weight of a text message, as they are the new kid on the block. However, WhatsApp does have some cool features, like the blue ticks that show when someone has read your message. This can be used against you and we recommend you turn it off.

DM or PM Soical Media.

DM or PMS are seen as the least important ways to respond and can sometimes take days or weeks for people to pick them.

These are the seven unwritten rules when it comes to digital body language and its meaning.

What Do You Do When You Get A Message You Don’t Understand?

When you get a message that you don’t understand, it is important to stop and think about the context of the message, who sent it and what time.

You should start by asking yourself what was going on when you received the message. This will help you understand if there was anything in your surroundings that could have affected your understanding of the message.

If this doesn’t work, ask for clarification or try to paraphrase what they said in order to see if it makes more sense.

If you can’t get a straight answer, then you will need to call them or schedule a video call so that you can get a clear understanding of the task at hand.

How To Be A Better Digital Body Language Communicator.

There are some really simple steps we can take to become better at communicating digitally.

Things to think about:

  • What is the best way to send this message? (IE Whatsapp, Email, Text)
  • Who needs to be included in the message?
  • What do I want the receivers to do when they receive the message?
  • What context or information do they need in order to take action?
  • What is an appropriate tone?
  • When is the best time to send the message?
  • How would you feel if the message was forwarded to screenshot? Is it better to call the person so this cannot happen?

Understand Digital Body Language Team Culture.

“The average team member wastes four hours per week on poor digital communication.”

When you work in a team, it is important to be a leader and send the right messages at the right time and digital messaging is no different.

There are plenty of nightmares where a CEO has responded to a team with an inconsistent message, which creates a culture of resentment, demotivates and passive-aggressive behavior within a team.

What Channels Of Communication Will You Use?

We suggest figuring out what medium you’ll use to communicate with customers (e.g. social media or email) or internally to work colleagues (e.g. WhatsApp for collaboration).

There are a few rules we can follow to get this sorted out, but before we do that we need to remember that each company has its own microclimate and way of communicating, so you may have a few different digital ways of talking.

Set The Rule. (Setting The Standards For Digital Communication)

1.) Complexity.

How complicated do you need to make it? Do you need a video call daily? Or will an email do with an audio meeting twice a week? Or is it low complexity a simple email will do for the week or month?

2.) Urgency

How quickly do you need a reply? Different channels will have different implied urgency. Set the standards early on. For example, an email could be 48 hours, IM could be 24 hours, texting could be 5 hours and a phone call is urgent right now.

Setting standards for your team early on will save you from confusion later. It’s your job as a CEO, manager, supervisor or team leader to set the standards you want.

3) Familiarity.

How familiar are you with the people or person you are communicating with? Are they close work colleagues or friends and family. How familiar you are with the person will determine what punctuation you will use to reply to a message.

How To Set The Perfect Digital Body Language Meeting.

  • Send a clear meeting agenda with outcome.
  • Set the rules of the meeting.
  • Use questions by text box in the meeting.
  • Have a meeting coordinator.
  • It’s important that everyone in the meeting knows what their role is, and this one question will help make sure that happens – Why are they attending the meeting and what value can they add?
  • Set a clear timeline for the meeting and don’t run over (respect others’ time.)
  • Don’t have more than eight people in a digital meeting.
  • Create breakout groups for questions that arise that divert from the main topic.
  • Allow time for questions at the end, please, by the coordinator.
  • Starting on time.
  • Ending on time.

Questions And Answers

What are some common examples of digital body language? 

Digital body language is the way users interact with the internet and digital devices. It is represented by the way we communcate and devices we use. For example:

– Email: When we want to send a formal message email is the prefered choice.

– Text: Text messages are a more direct way to connect with a person than email, but they are less formal.

There are many examples of digital body language that you use in your everyday life.

What Are The Challenges of digital body language?

Digital body language is a new concept that has emerged in the digital age. It is a form of communication that we use through our digital devices, such as smartphones, tablets, and computers.

We can also use it to communicate with other people who are in front of us but are using their own devices.

We can see this form of communication in many different ways: through social media posts, emails, texting, and chats on messaging apps like WhatsApp and Slack.

How to use digital body language in the workplace.

In the workplace, digital body language can be used to improve your relationships with your colleagues and boss. By using digital body language in the right way, you will be able to communicate more effectively with your colleagues and boss, which will lead to a better work environment for everyone.

You can use digital body language to become a better communicator in the digital age or the metaverse.

How can understanding digital body language improve our online communication? 

By understanding digital body language, we can learn to interpret the cues we do see in online communication and improve our ability to communicate effectively to get a clear and direct message across.

What are some common misinterpretations of digital body language? 

Most people think that when they are interacting with someone digitally, the other person doesn’t use body language when in fact that’s from the truth.

Digital body language has many misinterpretations, such as when you send a message like “Karl, you missed the delivery guy.” Is this an angry message or more of a reminder?

Digital body language can easily be misunderstood without context or knowledge of how the other person sends messages.

How can we better understand the digital body language of others? 

The best way to understand the digital body language of others is to pay attention to their patterns of online behavior.

This can include things like how often they check their devices, how quickly they respond to messages, and what kinds of emotions they tend to express online.

By paying attention to these patterns, we can get a better sense of how someone is feeling and what they might be thinking.

Why is digital body language important?

Digital body language is important as it can be used to create better user interfaces and interactions.

It can be used to improve the way humans and computers communicate with each other.

How do you use digital body language?

Clarity first. Be crystal clear with your emails and requests.

Summary

In conclusion, digital body language is a form of nonverbal communication that is used through digital devices such as computers, tablets, and phones. It can be used to communicate a wide range of emotions and messages and can be an important tool in both personal and professional interactions. If you have enjoyed learning about digital body language, please check out our other articles on nonverbal communication and how to read anyone.