Taylor Davidson called it “my phrase” at Tribecon, but it isn’t really mine– it’s been used many, many times before.
I started getting interested in it when I began doing Alexander Technique, which attempts to return your body to a natural, relaxed state through re-training (or “un”-training) you out of your bad posture habits.
But there’s more to it than that. The reason Alexander Technique is valuable is because it does a lot more than change posture– it also changes the way people see you, the way you project your voice, and a bunch of other stuff that is really valuable on a human level– particularly to me as a public speaker. (This is why many actors and musicians practice it.)
So I started to think: “If you’re sending non-verbal signals in person, you’re also doing it online. So how can you improve the signals you’re sending that aren’t verbal?”
If body language is a large part of what you’re showing people when you’re not speaking to them, digital body language is what you’re displaying to people on the web without speaking. And trust me, you’re sending a lot.
Let’s take the metaphor a bit further. If body language includes “stance,” what is stance on the web? It’s the way you or your company stand, what you look like, when you’re “in neutral.” What does your stance say about you, if people are just observing?
If being “tense” in real life means you look uncomfortable and frightened (which results in people feeling ill-at-ease around you), then what does tense mean in digital body language? Maybe a defensiveness in your writing and the way you position yourself vis-a-vis your market? That you’re not at ease with yourself?
People that are hunched over don’t look healthy– people with good posture do. What signals are you sending out that people assess as showing illness within your company or yourself?
Think about all of the signals you’re sending out. They’re happening all the time– they’re not just verbal, they’re everything you’re doing (or not doing). People intimate information from what they feel, and you’re making them feel it through your digital body language.
Like our body, which we often take for granted and forget about, we lose track of what our body language is telling people. But it’s vital not to ignore it like we do our body. It really is speaking volumes. Think about it.
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