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How face masks affect our communication

This news story was published on February 11, 2021.
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Face masks are life savers during a global pandemic, there’s simply no denying this fact.

But they also create a myriad of communication challenges as we go about our day to day routines within our community.

Human beings are complex creatures and when it comes to communication, words alone never tell the whole story.

Non-verbal communication is a huge part of communication behaviours, providing emotional context to the words themselves by conveying attitude and emotion.

By taking away half of our face, face masks certainly affect our ability to communicate.

Let’s explore the concept a little further below.

Psychological Implications of Covering a Simple Smile

There’s no escaping the fact that many emotions are conveyed solely by your smile.

Consider emotions such as disgust, happiness or contempt for example and you’ll soon realise just how much you rely on your mouth when expressing certain emotions.

While there are certainly other ways to convey emotions such as these, the loss of a subtle smile to a stranger or acquaintance possibly has the biggest implications.

Being the social creatures that we are, social smiles of this manner are highly meaningful in our cities and help to foster a true sense of belonging to our community.

Think back to times when you’ve come across a stranger like a customer service representative or even a medical professional.

You often decide whether you can trust them, purely on how positively they hold themself and the comfort a smile offers, is a huge part of this.

In a time when the coronavirus pandemic is wreaking havoc on the mental health of our communities, losing further touch with our community can have a devastating effect.

So what can we do to overcome some of these issues?

How to Improve Communication While Wearing a Face Mask

The key to better communication while wearing a face mask like a Hoorag, is to implement more pronounced non-verbal cues and mannerisms.

It’s a positive that face masks only cover the face and nose, thus leaving the eyes and eyebrows uncovered.

The eyes are very important when it comes to non-verbal communication.

You’d already understand this as in regular social settings, when someone you’re talking to chooses to not make eye contact with you while speaking, can instantly see them come across as disinterested.

When it comes to communication while wearing a face mask, always maintain eye contact and use your eyes to indicate emotions such as the involuntary squint as you smile.

Other non-verbal communication methods such as waving your hands, puffing out your chest or even something as subtle as nodding your entire head can all be successfully implemented across a range of situations to improve communication while wearing a face mask.

The bottom line is that we as humans, need to adapt our communication methods to include more pronounced non-verbal cues.

If you’re conscious of what’s lost by covering your face and mouth then you’ll be able to compensate elsewhere and ensure your message is received loud and clear.

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