Experts share creative ways to communicate while wearing a face mask

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Learning to communicate effectively while wearing a face mask is becoming an important skill to learn. As Indiana continues its reopening process, more people will be having in-person interactions at work, at the grocery store and in our own neighborhoods.

“We are going to have to get a little creative with how we communicate,” says Dr. Jill Fodstad, a professor of clinical psychology at Indiana University School of Medicine.

Dr. Fodstad says not seeing a person’s smile or frown is limiting because we are losing confirmation on how someone else is doing emotionally.

It’s a concern some News 8 viewers share. A recent poll on social media showed 65% of those who responded say wearing a mask changes how they interact with other people.

But how can we make sure those changes lead to efficient communication?

Dr. Fodstad says we can still show emotion to our friends or even strangers by changing our pitch and volume, speaking faster or slower to emphasize what we are saying and adding hand movements into a conversation.

Despite the concern that face masks could limit communication, Dr. Fodstad says we get a lot of information from someone’s eyes.

“You can convey the vast majority of your meaning, about 65% – 93% of your meaning, just using your eyes and eyebrows,” said Dr. Fodstad.

While we don’t need to get excessive with our eye movements, eyes can tell us how a person’s day is going or if they got enough sleep. To get this data, Dr. Fodstad suggests looking directly at the white part of a person’s eye.

Even if you choose not to wear a mask in public, you still may come in contact with someone who is wearing one.

“This is a time to pay closer attention to the people around us, even as a multi-tasking society because we are losing that emotional confirmation we are used to receiving,” added Dr. Fodstad.