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With so many businesses still relying on remote collaboration to keep their workers healthy and productive, video conferencing has become the norm. However, as this kind of communication has become more deeply incorporated into our lifestyles, new tendencies have arisen in how we communicate. Let’s delve into some of these developments.

A Now-Familiar Scenario

Think about the average remote meeting nowadays. Everyone signs into the solution, and soon their image is displayed to everyone else on the call. The meeting is carried out, and as the time comes for everyone to sign off and continue with their day, everyone says their goodbyes. Compared to the typical in-office meeting, this may seem odd enough, but many are now actually waving goodbye to their collaborators as they sign off. You may catch yourself doing just that the next time your department has an online sit-down. The question is… why? Why are we suddenly waving goodbye to coworkers and employees when a meeting comes to a close? Some experts in behavioral studies have chalked it up to a search for normalcy.

Why Waving (and Other Signals) are the New Normal

Therapists theorize that, as our method of communication changed so quickly, we all had to adapt to the limitations of the technology we are now using so that some decorum could be preserved. As useful as they have proven to be—especially in recent months—remote conferencing and collaboration solutions aren’t totally perfect. The limitations that physics place on our tools make some delay unavoidable. Chances are, you’ve experienced what it feels like to chime in after an awkward break in conversation, only to have another participant do the same thing at the same time. These limitations have pressured us to figure out new ways of communicating through our body language without us even realizing it. When people need to duck out of the meeting, all they really have to do is click a button… but instead, we’ve collectively established a new gesture to excuse ourselves: a brief wave. Of course, it also doesn’t hurt that we aren’t able to enjoy much interaction with our teammates right now, beyond these gestures. As a result, we tend to overcompensate—nodding more when others are speaking, raising a hand when we would like to speak next, and yes, waving goodbye as we sign off.

How to More Effectively Use Nonverbal Cues

Nonverbal cues, such as the hand-raising that we see, are significantly useful as a part of a remote conversation. These cues can help the conversation move along while giving the words spoken considerably more context. You’ve probably seen these cues in action:


Using body language to drive a point home or generally emphasize certain topics or details to show your enthusiasm.


Or, matching your words with the “tone” of body language you use as you say them gives them some extra weight.


On the other hand, if your body language is mismatched to your verbal language, the others in the meeting are going to pick up on that and take notice.


If you want to make a point, it helps to repeat your point of view. Repeating your message (especially adding a new detail) will only help to reinforce it in the minds of your audience.


If your body language makes something clear on its own, there is no reason to express it verbally as you are conferencing. If you’re upset, look upset. If you’re pleased, look pleased, and so on and so forth. There are plenty of specific nonverbal cues that you should also keep an eye out for, too:
  • Backchannels, like “um”, “uh”, and other filler words can indicate that you are paying attention and are engaged.
  • Eye contact is a good indication of how much attention a meeting’s attendees are devoting to it, so keep an eye out for wandering eyes.
  • Watch for facial expressions, body language, and other nonverbal indicators.
What are some other ways that your team has been communicating while working remotely? Share them in the comments!