COVID is here to stay for the immediate future, and that means face masks will be part of the workplace. While masks can be inconvenient and uncomfortable, it is important to learn to function in a world where face cover is the norm. Here are a few tips to keep masks from obstructing communication:
- Avoid clear masks when possible. These may seem like a good idea; and they may be preferred when you’re communicating with deaf or hearing impaired people. However, they tend to fog up; and some people find them uncomfortable or unsettling.
- Work on your “mask voice.” Specifically, pause to give people time to respond or enter the conversation. Accentuate key phrases and use volume, modulation, and emotion to express excitement, job, and calm. Speak clearly and try to stay face-to-face while talking to someone.
- Practice active listening. Show that you are paying attention and that you understand what the other person is saying. Nod and pepper your conversation with phrases like, “Yes, I understand.”
- Use gestures and body language more freely, but don’t overdue. Don’t feel like you have to overcompensate. Increase your gesturing by about 10%.
- Use mirroring as a non-verbal behavior to help build rapport.
- Smile with your eyes. It’s okay (and important) to smile under your mask because your eyes will show your joy and expressions of warmth.
- Determine when a conversation might be better held via email, text, or zoom.