Eleanor Hecks is the managing editor of Designerly. She’s also a mobile app designer with a focus on UI. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and goldendoodles, Bear and Lucy. Connect with her about marketing, UX and/or tea on LinkedIn.
Today, workspaces have expanded beyond the physical office into the virtual realm. In this digital frontier, every glance, Zoom background, posture, and gesture during a virtual meeting become essential components of your nonverbal communication.
In this era of remote work, our body language often speaks louder than words. Remote professionals should understand the significance of these cues, as they play a vital role in enhancing connections, ensuring clarity, and promoting personal brands.
Virtual nonverbal cues help bridge the digital divide and remind us of our shared human experience. While effective verbal communication is essential, silent conveyances can be just as impactful.
So, What Is Virtual Nonverbal Communication?
Virtual nonverbal communication refers to conveying messages without spoken words in the digital spaces frequented by remote workers. These are silent signals you employ in daily interactions, intentional or not. Everything from a subtle facial expression shift, to your overall appearance, and the backgrounds you use on Zoom calls influence how you present yourself and are perceived professionally.
Hand gestures, like a simple thumbs-up on mute, can convey a lot. Your body posture matters too. Speaking confidently to the camera suggests assurance, while constant fidgeting or being distracted by other windows can indicate the opposite. These behaviors offer insights into a worker’s mindset or even reflect our own.
The Benefits of Thoughtful Virtual Nonverbal Communication
Improved Workplace Relationships and Morale
Strong organizational ties stem from the relationships between its members. Simple gestures like nodding appreciatively or maintaining virtual eye contact during presentations can strengthen these bonds.
Enhanced Trust and Empathy
Trust is pivotal for team productivity. Steady eye contact, affirming body language, and projecting confidence foster trust. Displaying empathy – such as nodding in understanding or mirroring facial expressions – ensures team members feel valued.
Elevated Personal & Professional Impact
Your nonverbal cues during virtual meetings make lasting impressions. Consider the difference between a participant appearing disengaged versus one actively listening and engaging. Naturally, we gravitate towards individuals exuding positive nonverbal behavior, enhancing their professional influence.
Improving Virtual Nonverbal Communication
Contrary to some beliefs, nonverbal communication in a virtual setting is just as crucial as in a physical one. Here’s how you can enhance yours:
- Prioritize posture: A good posture indicates attentiveness.
- Use eye contact and hand gestures: Engage directly with the camera and ensure your hand gestures are visible.
- Leverage facial expressions: Ensure your expressions show active engagement, nodding and smiling at appropriate times.
- Curate your digital background: Ensure your virtual environment sends the right message.
Understanding Your Nonverbal Communication Style
To utilize nonverbal cues effectively, you first need to identify your personal style. Observe your interactions, especially comparing those with people you're at ease with versus those you find challenging. By contrasting, you'll spot patterns, helping you refine your nonverbal communication.
Recognize Others’ Virtual Nonverbal Communication
Effective communication extends beyond words. Recognizing and understanding varied nonverbal cues can help bridge communication gaps and forge connections across diverse groups.
When colleagues trust you, they’re more open. By emphasizing nonverbal connections, we can foster genuine bonds that drive productivity and enhance job satisfaction. The power of virtual nonverbal communication lies in creating workspaces where everyone thrives.