Qualitative Research Consultants Association (QRCA) - QRCA Views Magazine, Winter 2021

By Zoë Billington n Lead of Research & Consumer Insights n Vimeo n New York, New York n zbillington@gmail.com I t was so fitting that my conversation with Erica Dhawan was conducted over Zoom. But let me tell you, I was feeling the pressure. After reading her new book, Digital Body Language: How to Build Trust and Connection, No Matter the Distance, my mind was swirling with best practices for holding successful virtual meetings, as well as ways to supercharge how I conduct research sessions online. Had I given enough detail about the agenda for the call in the calendar invitation? Was the tone of my writing too casual for a meeting with an author whom I had never met in person? While these questions, in so many words, were not on the agenda, I knew I had the opportunity for a “free communications consultation” from a true expert. In preparation for this interview and discussion, I had read Dhawan’s book, learned the scoop on her background, and knew she was on a book tour. Now I wanted to know how to apply the principles of her book to our work in the qualitative research industry. Finding Her Voice in Both the Spoken and Unspoken Word Dhawan is a first-generation American born to Indian parents. In the first pages of her new book, Digital Body Language, Dhawan writes, “My mom and dad both made it a high priority that my two siblings and I honored traditional Indian values and customs. Silence was a sign of respect to elders and listening, a prized trait.” Her teachers’ report card com- ments had a running theme: “studious but wish she spoke up more.” Given all of this, Dhawan told me, “It was my destiny to speak up and find my voice.” In her role as a communication consultant (ericadhawan.com ), Dhawan hasn’t just found her own voice, but is using it to help others find theirs. So, it is kind of ironic that in her book, Digital Body Language, the emphasis is on the things that aren’t said, but communicated through our physical disposition, virtual etiquette, and written communication. Due to COVID-19, her book tour was completely virtual. While Dhawan’s upbringing and background are unique, she stressed in our conversation that, “we’re all immigrants in a digital world.” During a time when the coronavirus has Digital Body Language for the VIEWS Community: n LUMINARIES n Erica Dhawan Shares Why the Visual Component of Virtual Work Is Just a Small Part of the Story Erica Dhawan Then Erica Dhawan Now “I grew up as a shy, introverted, Indian immigrant kid,” says Erica. Erica all grown up. 48 QRCA VIEWS WINTER 2021 www.qrca.org