Communicate Better Despite A Mask
Tips for Communicating While Wearing Face Masks, as originally published by DPHA Connections
One of the biggest complaints about wearing masks is that it hinders communication. From a young age, we are taught the importance of nonverbal communication. The mouth region shows emotions better than anything else. 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:
- 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 be able to see your smile under your mask.
- 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.
- 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 it be reflected in your voice. Consider speaking with more vocal inflection to better get your point across.
- Carefully select your words. While non-verbal communication is extremely important, our emotions are going to be a bit more hidden under a mask.
- Don’t be afraid to talk with your hands. Hand gestures can increase the retention of information presented.
Millions of women around the world wear face veils every day and face the same issues of hindered communication. Obviously, 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.