The coronavirus pandemic has brought a lot of new work challenges, and a major one is communicating while wearing a mask.
People can still hear voices through the masks, but they’re missing out on key facial expressions that help convey sincerity and tone.
Nonverbal communication is incredibly important to get points across, and right now, we’re all lacking that.
Keys to get your point across
Here are some keys to successful masked communication, courtesy of Harvard Business Review:
1. Avoid clear masks. Some think transparent masks are the key here, but they tend to fog up easily, which is more distracting. Unless you’re communicating with a deaf person, stick to a regular mask.
2. Practice your ‘mask voice.’ While speaking with a face covering, it’s important to remember four things: pause, accentuate, volume and emotion. Give people the chance to jump in, and slightly exaggerate both volume and tone, since the mask has a muffling effect.
3. Be an active listener. Nodding or the occasional “Mm-hmm” will let the person know you can hear them through the mask. If they seem upset or are expressing something negative, confirm this by stating, “So what I’m hearing is … “
4. Use body language. This is so important in conveying tone, though you don’t want to overdo it. Experts say to increase your amount of gestures by about 10%. Since handshakes aren’t happening right now, a nice friendly wave can be used instead. Also, don’t forget to smile. They won’t see it through your mask, but your eyes will look more friendly.