Communication is one of the most important skills to master in both our professional and personal lives.
As mediators, clear communication can not only help to resolve issues but also diffuse situations and prevent complaints from escalating.
As of the start of December, face masks and coverings became compulsory once again in shops and indoor spaces in England as the government sought to introduce measures to curb the spread of COVID-19.
Face masks, whilst uncomfortable for some, can also limit the way in which we communicate. In today’s blog entry, we share our insights into how to communicate better when wearing a face covering.
The first and key point to think of is if the person you’re communicating with is having trouble understanding you. Asking and adapting your communication style in response to if the individual is struggling is the first step to communicating better. If so, these three tips can be of assistance:
When your mouth is covered, you have to rely on the eyes more. You can regain some control over communication by using your eyes. If you want to increase understanding with a masked individual, you should look them in the eyes. Of course, eye contact can be uncomfortable for some and it is important to not stare. However, using eyes as visual clues shows a willingness to communicate and engage.
The eyes carry more weight during a masked conversation – so does body language. For instance, when someone is happy, they stand up straighter and lift their head; when they are sad, they slouch and drop their head; and when they are angry, their whole body tenses up. Learning how people use their bodies to convey emotion may help reduce the uncertainty you feel when communicating with someone in a mask.
A better understanding of these cues can also help you convey the right message with your own body. You can appear more attentive by turning your body toward the individual, leaning in or nodding. To let another person know you want to start speaking, straighten your posture, hold up your index finger or nod more frequently.
Because masks muffle our voices slightly, it can be tempting to raise your voice in response. But yelling doesn’t make your meaning clearer, it just makes you seem mad. What should you do instead? Changing the tone of your voice can change the whole conversation, so instead of increasing volume, try improving enunciation.
We hope our mini blog has been useful in terms of addressing how to better communicate when wearing a face mask. For more information as to the latest updates, guidance and support from the UK government, please visit Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance and support