Hello! This week I thought I’d write a blog about something that’s topical but seems to cause a lot of friction between people who have differing ideas about them – that’s right, I’m talking about masks (and I’m not thinking Halloween here!).
Whether you’ve returned to work in an environment that requires you to wear a mask, you’re in a shop, wearing a mask because of a medical condition, walking down the street or running in the park, non-verbal communication has become more important than ever before. If you’re feeling lonely or anxious about what’s going on, lack of communication can make things so much worse.
When your expressions are concealed by a mask it’s easy for negative perceptions to be made. So how to communicate effectively and still manage to build up a rapport, whilst keeping yourself and others safe? Here are some ways to improve things:
- You’ll need to use body language and gestures more than before and maybe you’ve already got into the habit of giving a little wave to people when you meet them for the first time.
- Try to mirror the behaviour of the person you’re talking to (within reason! – surprisingly, this happens subconsciously to some extent anyway and it helps build rapport between people. Now it’s more important than ever so try practising this at home in front of a mirror so that imitating the body language of the person you’re speaking to comes naturally.
- Avoid clear masks if you can – they may seem the ideal solution but they tend to fog up and some people find that they make them feel uneasy. However, they’re a good idea if you’re speaking to someone who is deaf.
- Practice increasing the volume of your voice – no need to shout, but you’re probably aware that masks have a muffling effect so it’s necessary to speak up a bit (obvious but true!).
- Pause more than usual – that gives people the chance to respond or jump in.
- Try to make your voice more expressive by conveying emotions like sympathy and excitement – this will show in your eyes which, after all, Shakespeare said that ‘eyes are the window to the soul’; a phrase which has endured through centuries.
We now know that masks are almost certainly here for the next few months so it will help if you can master the above tips and then, when we can finally show our full faces again, they’ll hopefully help you to communicate in a more positive in the future
Please do comment on my blog if you have found it interesting, useful or otherwise. You can see my blogs as soon as they are published (usually on Wednesdays) by pressing the ‘follow’ button and you can share them with your friends. You can also find me on Linked In, Instagram (samebutdifferent) and read my FB posts at Same But Different.