Tips for Communicating with Masks

Tips for Communicating with Masks

One of the biggest complaints about wearing masks is that it hinders communication. From a young age, we learn the importance of nonverbal communication. The mouth is the best region for showing emotions. There are 19 different types of smiles, for example. Smiles can reflect happiness, fear, embarrassment and pain, among other emotions. So, how do we communicate those emotions while wearing face masks, and how can we translate this to business interactions?

Here are some tips for communicating while protecting yourself and others by wearing a mask:

  1. Body language is key to effective communication and serves to create first impressions with your clients. Relax your shoulders, and try not to cross your arms. You want to appear as welcoming and relaxed. We often show this by smiling, but clients and customers won't see your smile under your mask. 
  2. Smile anyway. While masks cover up the smile itself, a genuine smile will make its way to your eyes. Happiness can be seen by raised eyebrows, raised cheeks and those dreaded crow’s feet.
  3. Watch your tone of voice. Tone can be just as impactful as the words you use. Things may be busy and stressful right now but try not to let your voice reflect that. Consider speaking with more vocal inflection to get your point across better.
  4. Carefully select your words. While non-verbal communication is extremely important, our emotions will be a bit more hidden under a mask.
  5. Don’t be afraid to talk with your hands. Using hand gestures while you speak helps others remember what you say and enables you to communicate more quickly and effectively.

Millions of women worldwide wear face veils every day and encounter the same issues of hindered communication. A face mask differs significantly from a niqab or burka. The two have very different meanings and motivations for the wearer while dealing with the same issues of hiding the mouth. Communication with the eyes is very important in cultures where veiling is common, and we can learn from that.

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