Will this pandemic ever end? Even as the vaccines are here, the virus continues to evolve and surface as new variants that are hard to deal with. Face coverings are your best defense, and you must wear them even after getting the vaccine. But wearing a mask for extended periods often makes people uncomfortable. Communication is even a bigger challenge as you find it hard to express yourself and understand others when your face isn’t visible completely.
You miss out on the micro-interactions and non-verbal cues. Your speech may get muffled, which is another reason why it gets harder to pass the message. But it is something you have to work on, rather than take off the mask and expose yourself to the virus. Fortunately, you can ace communication while wearing a face mask with some effort and smart thinking. Here is some expert advice that can help you ace communicating in the new normal.
Make the best of what is visible
Facial expressions go a long way in expressing and understanding emotions and feelings. You can use them to decipher feelings of happiness, sadness, fear, disgust, or surprise, even without verbal cues. But a face covering can deprive you of that information. Moreover, wearing one can make you feel self-conscious and distracted, which weakens your connection with others.
But even as you wear a mask, a part of your face is still visible, and you can use it to your advantage. Let your eyes do the talking and connect with others by looking into their eyes. It will be a lot easier to understand them and convey your feelings. Eye contact fosters trust and brings genuineness into the interactions. You may not initially feel comfortable with eye contact, but some practice takes you a long way.
Communicate through body language
While your eyes do a lot of work, you cannot overlook the importance of body language when it comes to nailing communication. It offers a range of verbal cues, such as slouching and dropping your head indicates sadness and standing up and holding your head high is an indication of happiness and confidence. Learning more about these cues helps, and you can use the knowledge to align your body language while communicating with others with your mask on.
You can appear more attentive and engaged in a conversation by only turning your body toward the other person or leaning in. Straightening your posture and nodding more frequently also makes the interaction more positive. Mirroring the posture of the other person is a good idea. It increases mutual liking between the people involved and fosters positivity in the interaction.
Pick the right face mask
Doing the best with non-verbal communication gets you in a good place, but you cannot imagine conveying your message without speaking up. Picking the right face mask can make all the difference to the clarity of speech. Opt for Custom Mask Sizing because it makes you comfortable and improves speech clarity. The choice of the right fabric also makes a difference in the voice clarity.
You can go a step ahead by using a clear mask because it has a clear plastic panel that makes communication simpler for everyone. It is as good as not wearing anything because the listener can see your expressions and even read your lips if they miss something at any point in the conversation. You may need to spend a tad more on a communication mask, but it is worth the cost.
Practice your mask voice
Another vital aspect of communicating while wearing your mask is practicing the “mask voice”. Covering your mouth will impact your voice, regardless of the material and design of the mask. You have to be careful about modulating the tone and volume to get across the message carefully. Adding pauses and fillers at the right places also makes a difference.
Being careful about your pitch is vital because it is indicative of your mood. A high-pitched shout could convey anger or intensity, while a low-pitched whisper denotes sadness or insecurity. Just raising or lowering your voice may alter the message even without intention. Although voice modulation may seem like a challenge, some practice takes you a long way.
Understand the value of active listening
Mastering communication with a mask goes beyond practicing with your speech. You also need to understand the value of active listening. Show interest in the conversation by carefully listening to each word of the speaker. You must also respond with gestures and speech at the right times. Be attentive to non-verbal cues and respond to them as well. It is an affirmation to the speaker that you have a genuine interest in the interaction.
If you have doubts regarding a part of the conversation, ask the speaker to repeat or explain for better clarity. Active listening and showing interest with timely and relevant responses help in building rapport with the other person. It also increases trust and likeability so that you can bond better.
Be genuine and comfortable
The final piece of advice for acing communication with your mask on is to be genuine and comfortable. Face covering will be around for some time, so you have to make a conscious effort to develop the skill and comfort level. It may take some time and effort, but the skills will help you everywhere, at work, at home, and even with social interactions.
You may make mistakes initially, but it isn’t something you should be apprehensive about. People around you are struggling with the same issues, and they will understand. You only need to make genuine efforts to connect and convey your message clearly till you can show your full face again.
The pandemic has changed lives, but the human race has the knack for surviving the toughest of crises. The initial phase confined people to remote communications, but the world is coming together again. You can connect and communicate with others, but everything boils down to doing it right while wearing your face mask. It may sound challenging to pass the message and bond over conversations, but these tips can help a lot.