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How to Effectively Communicate Non-Verbally While Wearing a Mask

Smile with your eyes.


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Jordan Gross

3 years ago | 3 min read

Whether you’re at work, walking on the street, or even in the comfort of your home, wearing a mask is a wise move to protect yourself and the people around you. But this piece is not about the mask vs. no mask debate. This piece is for the mask wearers.

The mask has allowed us to slowly open up our worlds. It’s allowed us to open up our stores. It’s allowed us to open up our businesses. It’s allowed us to open up our doors and venture into the outside world. But masks have closed off something very important. They’ve closed off our smiles.

But this does not mean we should forget the importance of smiling. We should not forego the importance of body language when communicating with others.

Sure, a mask may cover more than half our face, but that does not mean we can get by with only our words when interacting with different people. There are still ways to effectively non-verbally communicate even while wearing your mask.

1. Smile with Your Eyes

In the 19th century, a scientist named Guillaume Duchenne was studying the muscles that control facial expressions, and realized that when the zygomaticus major muscle lifts the corners of your mouth when the orbicularis oculi raises your cheeks, it causes laugh lines at the outside corners of your eyes. This is now known as the Duchenne Smile, or in other words, smiling with your eyes.

In a healthline.com article written by Rebecca Joy and medically reviewed by J. Keith Fisher, MD, smiling with your eyes has the ability to elevate your mood, help us connect, can change our body’s response to stress, and can shape how others see us.

One thing a mask cannot cover is our eyes. Try the Duchenne smile to still show your appreciation for the people around you.

2. Let Your Hands do More Talking

According to an article in psychologytoday.com from Dr. Susan Weinschenk, using hand gestures can help communicate confidence or expertise. Hand gestures can either add to, detract from, or substitute for our usual verbal communication.

Some of the best public speakers in the world use hand gestures to add emphasis and meaning to the words they are sharing with their audience. We can do this with the people around us as well.

Try facing your palms toward each other with your fingers together. This can show expertise according to Weinschenk. Or if you grasp your hands in front of you, then it may be the opposite, and you seem nervous or tentative. If you open your hands and face them down, it expresses certainty, and hands open with palms at 45-degree angle represents honesty and openness.

We do not have to wear masks on our hands. And even if you’re wearing gloves, make sure to wear the clear ones so others are sure to see how your hand gestures add to your communication.

3. Be Posture Perfect

Amy Cuddy is a Harvard researcher who has published and shared vast amounts of studies that reveal how posture plays a role in our non-verbal communication. For example, a pose she refers to as power posing, displays confidence and positivity.

When communicating with others, make sure your posture reveals more good about you than it does bring you harm. Be cognizant of slouched shoulders, weak knees, and a fallen head.

A mask should have no bearing on your posture.

One Thing You Must Know

We may no longer have the ability to smile at the person in front of us, but this does not mean we can’t enhance our communication in other ways. Body language is critical in effectively connecting and building positive relationships with other people. Try some of these tips in order to still non-verbally communicate when most of your face is covered.

Originally published on medium

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