Building Trust with Body Language in Our Online World

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Building Trust with Body Language in Our Online World
Written By: Sandi MacCalla ~ 1/24/2022

Our virtual world is still impacting how we interact and build trust in our online relationships. Here are some insights I’ve noticed.

  • We now have a limited body-language read:
    • We only see the upper 10-20% of the body when much more information is transmitted through the full body.
    • Everyone is usually sitting down, so motion is very limited as well as the overall body frame.
    • Everybody is the same height online.
  • Reading faces now is the main target of online conversations
    • If you want to learn more, check out “Lie to Me” TV program to pick up information on reading faces.


These are keys I’ve seen to build trust while online:

  1. Good posture and direct eye contact signal you are engaged and “a player” in the conversation.
  2. When you offer to take action during an online session, follow-through to the finish offline.
  3. A meeting online is a face-to-face conversation. Avoid:
    1. Being distracted or doing distracting activities:
      1. Doing other work cuts the cord of respect, engagement and trust.
      2. Walking around, adjusting your cell phone, juggling items is dizzying at best for meeting-mates. Mute your sound and video while you have to be active.
      3. Except for drinking water, soda, tea or coffee, all other personal activities translate to disconnection and do not build trust.
    2. If you need to handle a situation, verbally excuse yourself and turn off your sound and video.
    3. If there is an extended situation occurring, let your meeting-mates know that you need to leave the meeting and verbally excuse yourself. Follow-up afterwards to catch up on what took place after you left.
    4. Learn the tools of the online meeting program to participate appropriately in the meeting to add comments, ask questions, contribute insights, and thank the host/team.
    5. Chat is a great tool, and it can be disruptive and distracting to the flow of the meeting. Also, recall that a record of the Chat entries is sent to the meeting host afterwards, so make sure you are okay with what you have said.

I am impressed that most meetings are productive and respectful of others. I do think that online meetings restrict the trust-building process we experience when we meet in-person. I see this as meaning it will take longer than it has in the past. How that balances out with the other factors we use to establish trust with others is yet to be seen. For more perspective: How to build trust in the workplace: 10 effective solutions (


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