As we begin to connect in person again while adhering to social distancing guidelines, it can seem challenging to show that you’re engaged, interested, and listening when you’re six or more feet away from the person you’re interacting with. Here are a few easy tips from Lisa Mitchell, communications expert & founder of Power Body Language to help keep you feeling connected when physically separated.
1. Warmly Acknowledge The Other Person
For many of us, we’re used to starting an interaction off with a handshake or even a hug, both of which are frowned upon at the current moment. Just because we can’t greet each other that way now doesn’t mean we can’t still share warmth upon greeting each other.
A genuine smile, yes, even with a mask one, indicates that you are happy to be in the same the space with someone and acknowledging them with a wave, and air high five, or some other type of nod or gesture can let them know that you’re happy to see them and ready to connect or do business.
2. Verbalize Your Intention
When we can as easily use our facial expressions, space, and touch to let people know we are ready to connect and engage with them, it’s important that we use our words more intentionally to help create clarity around our intentions and to reinforce how we feel.
By clearly stating things like “I’m so happy to see you!” or “I’m looking forward to a productive time together as we work on XYZ…” you are letting the other person know directly how you feel since they can’t as easily read your expressions or even hear your inflections as well if you’re wearing a mask.
3. Use More Animation and Gestures To Help Provide Clarity
When interacting at a distance and wearing a mask, the person on the other side of your face is missing out on key data points that they usually count on to help create clarity and understanding during an interaction.
Be mindful about how you’re using your body language, including explanatory hand gestures to illustrate key points, leaning in or away to show closeness or distance, and using more animated facial expressions such as raising your eyebrows to show excitement or enthusiasm can all help compensate for what isn’t as easy to see or hear as it usually would be if you were sitting closer together and not wearing masks.
Just because we’re interacting at a distance and wearing masks doesn’t mean that the impact of our interactions has to be any less effective. Using these mindful and easy communication hacks can help you feel better connected and more easily understood.