As states and communities begin to open back up and we start resuming our out-of-home activities, we are being encouraged to wear masks to help protect ourselves and others.
Whether you agree with it or not, many places are requiring you to wear a mask to enter, so knowing some of the challenges to be aware of and best practices to embrace can help you communicate effectively while wearing a mask. Lisa Mitchell, Communications Expert & Founder of Power Body Language, has some tips to make sure you’re able to communicate effectively.
1) Communication Challenges That Come With Wearing A Mask
When wearing a mask in public and interacting with others, it’s likely that you’ll face a few challenges resulting from having a large portion of your face covered when doing so.
- Masks limit what facial expressions people can “read” and also what you can see displayed on other people’s faces
- Increased chance of being misunderstood
- May be viewed as suspicious or make other’s uneasy because they can’t see your whole face
- Harder to communicate with those with hearing impairments that may require lip reading for better understanding
2) Tips To Making Your Communication More Effective When Wearing A Mask/face covering
Even when you’re face is partially covered, there are a few things you can be intentional about doing that will increase the effectiveness of your communication and lessen the chance of being misunderstood.
Be more effective by:
- Still giving a genuine smile under your mask: this lifts your cheeks and activates your eyes and adds warmth to your interaction
- Use your eyebrows to more expressive. This helps people feel seen and recognized
- Use other body language cues like hand gestures (open palm to build trust) or to illustrate key points that you want to make
- Use your space effectively. You can still lean in or turn fully towards someone (while practicing safe social distancing) to show your interest and engagement.
The biggest takeaway during this time of communicating while wearing masks is that we have to be more intentional than ever with how we communicate, how clear we are, and how much attention we are paying to the body language cues of those that we are speaking with.