How to Communicate Better While Wearing a Face Mask
October 15, 2020
While many companies continue to work remotely, some business simply can’t be conducted over a video call and is better off in person. If you suddenly switched to communicating by video calls, you know that these come with their own set of challenges, such as exhaustion and difficulty picking up verbal or physical cues. As it turns out, though, these challenges are not unique to video communication.
Face masks are a crucial component to staying safe and healthy right now. However, that doesn’t mean they don’t create some communication challenges. If you find yourself constantly asking others to speak up or repeat what they just said, you’re not alone. Fortunately though, there are some steps you can take to improve communication while you’re wearing a mask.
When you’re wearing fabric over your mouth, your voice will naturally sound a little more muffled than it usually does. This can be frustrating for everyone—for the person who has to ask you to repeat what you just said, and for you to have to repeat things multiple times. The easiest way to combat this is simply to speak up. You don’t need to (and probably don’t want to) shout everything you say. Instead, practice projecting your voice so that conversations come through loud and clear.
Exaggerate a Little
Humans communicate with more than just our voices. Our expressions say a lot, too. You may not realize that you pick up these nonverbal cues from others…until their faces are obscured. One thing that can help here is to accentuate your words by emphasizing phrases, emotion, and even pauses where necessary. It might feel strange, but this can help make up for an obscured face and a muffled voice.
Eliminate Background Noise
If you have to meet someone in person, a noisy backdrop can make it even harder to understand someone who’s wearing a mask. You might not be able to control the environmental sounds, but seeking out a quieter conversation spot can make a world of difference.
Be an Active Listener
You were probably told to be an active listener during your school days, but this is a lifelong skill. It’s easy to let your mind wander during a conversation—we’ve all done it from time to time. But actively working to hear what your conversation partner is saying can eliminate a lot of frustration for you and them. Be sure to acknowledge what they’re saying so the other person knows they’re being heard, too.
Be Extra Considerate
Everyone is facing more challenges this year. One of the most important things we can do for one another is to simply show a little extra consideration. Take the time to make sure others are able to understand you and can hear what you say. Be patient in the event that someone asks you to repeat something, and don’t forget that physical distance from someone can make it even harder to hear what you’re saying!
Being mindful of these factors and other challenges a person might be facing are some simple ways to show consideration that will go a long way to making others feel respected and cared for.