Further from my blog about personality in text communication, I’m digging in deeper to the idea of being able to read the digital, or virtual, body language of someone without seeing them face to face.

In that last blog post, I shared about someone “knowing me” over instant messaging communication. A CBS News article highlights that:

As with real body language, it helps if you have a baseline on the individual. In other words, everything is relative to how a person ordinarily communicates.

Reading body language of any sort with confidence is partly about knowing the other person. Is that the same in physical body language?

Erica Dhawan writes in her paper “Misunderstood, solving digital miscommunication at work” along these lines too:

Our connections are no longer limited by geographical distance. We know more people, but many of these relationships are superficial. Depth of relationship underlies each of the above communication shifts.

Familiarity can fill in the void of digital body language. You are more forgiving of a late night work text from your long time colleague than you would be of a text from the new guy.

Look at this Twitter exchange between people (including me) that knew each other to greater or lesser extents:

Did you get the humour in it? The affection and playfulness? What highlighted that to you? For me, it was:

  • Double explanation mark from Ainsley
  • Use of “hahaha” written by Blake
  • I was intentionally informal with “nah”
  • I used winking smiley face emoticon and a tongue poking out too

Or, did you read this conversation differently? Whichever way you read this, it’s interpreting information, or virtual body language.

Erica Dhawan, in her paper “Misunderstood, solving digital miscommunication at work” paper comments that:

As the disruption persists, we will continue to experience new forms of misunderstanding. The solution is not in new technologies…

Instead, the solution is in understanding the new rules of engagement; in building a communication skill set that reflects the demands of our digital workplace.

What are some of the “new rules of engagement” that you are seeing and experiencing?