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Use Nonverbal Cues to Make Your Point When Wearing a Face Mask

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Illustration for article titled Use Nonverbal Cues to Make Your Point When Wearing a Face Mask

Photo: Mongkolchon Akesin (Shutterstock)

Even though we’re now several months into wearing face masks in public, some aspects continue to be a challenge. Beyond the facts that they’re uncomfortable and have become politically divisive, face masks have also made it a lot harder to communicate.

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Sometimes we’re speaking with a person who doesn’t understand us clearly, and many people instinctively pull their mask down to repeat themselves. Does it get your point across? Sure, but it also defeats the purpose of wearing a face mask—so please, don’t do that. Instead, we need to improve at communicating with our masks on.

In an article in the Harvard Business Review, Dustin York, an associate professor and the director of undergraduate and graduate communications at Maryville University, explains why forms of nonverbal communication are particularly important when we’re wearing a face mask.

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“In situations where there’s an incongruity between what’s spoken verbally and what’s displayed nonverbally, people instinctively lend greater weight to the latter,” he writes. “Unfortunately, if your expressions are concealed by a mask, that can happen more often.”

To help us navigate these challenges, York has provided us with the following tips for becoming more effective nonverbal communicators in situations involving wearing a face mask. Here’s what to do and what to avoid to make sure you get your point across without risking anyone’s safety.

Avoid clear masks

When face masks with a clear plastic panel started popping up a few months ago, it seemed like a great solution to our communication problems. But, as York points out, they tend to fog up easily, so they’re not ideal. The exception to this, he says, is if you’re communicating with a person or group who may be hard of hearing.

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Use your ‘mask voice’

Even if you don’t typically pay attention to the way you speak, it’s a necessity when you’re wearing a face mask. This is something Lifehacker’s Senior Parenting Editor Meghan Moravcik Walbert wrote about earlier this month, as it pertains to communicating with children. Turns out, avoiding “mask muffle” and talking like a kindergarten teacher are good strategies at any age.

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Be an active listener

This is a good idea regardless of whether you’re wearing a face mask, but practicing active listening—including nodding along to the conversation or a well-placed “mmm-hmm”—can also make a difference. York suggests paraphrasing what someone just said to you (using phrases like “So what you mean is…” or “What I’m hearing you say is…”) as a way to affirm their feelings and help develop a better rapport.

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Use more gestures and body language

Specifically, York recommends increasing your level of gesturing by about 10%. Just don’t overdo it and veer into mime territory. You can also mirror the other person, imitating their body language (in a respectful, non-obvious way) as another way to show you’re actively listening and build rapport, York says.

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Keep your toes and torso aligned

According to York, the direction our feet are pointing during a conversation can signal our interest. For instance, in a situation where you’re speaking with someone but have your toes pointed towards the nearest door, you’re letting the person know that you’d rather be someplace else. To avoid this, make sure that your toes and torso are aligned and facing your conversation partner.

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Smile with your eyes

Who knew a years-old tip from Tyra Banks on a modeling reality TV show would be so relevant today? Whether or not you use her terminology of “smizing,” using your eyes to show a person that you’re smiling can help convey that you’re friendly, York says.

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Zoom if you must

While York says that communicating with someone in-person is usually preferable, there are times when an unmasked Zoom call is the most effective option.

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Charge Your Phone Wirelessly With 50% off a Multifunctional LED Lamp

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Best Tech DealsBest Tech DealsThe best tech deals from around the web, updated daily.

White Wireless Charge Lamp | $18 | Amazon | Clip coupon + code ABC88699
Black Wireless Charger Lamp | $20 | Amazon | Promo code ABC88699

When you’re ready to turn in for the night, you don’t want to forget to charge your phone— especially if your mobile device doubles as your alarm clock.

With this wireless charger lamp, you can make this crucial step of your nightly routine even easier by just setting your phone on the wireless charging pad and… well, that’s all there is to it!

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Other functions include multiple lighting modes as well as a sleep timer option for auto shut-off of the light after 30 or 60 minutes.

This lamp can be yours in white for $18 if you clip the coupon on Amazon (it’s below the original $40 price) and add promo code ABC88699 at checkout.

You can snag the black version for $20 using the same code—no coupon though, sorry.

Don’t sleep on this deal! Who knows how long stock or the coupon code will last?

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Keep That Hotdish Hot With 65% Off a Luncia Casserole Carrier, Only $11 With Promo Code

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Best Home DealsBest Home DealsThe best home, kitchen, smart home, and automotive deals from around the web, updated daily.

Luncia Double-Decker Dish Carrier | $11 | Amazon | Promo code SDDU9S7F

It has been a long time since the days we could safely have a potluck or other gatherings, but we have a fantastic deal perfect for once those times return. These double-decker Luncia dish carriers can be had for 65% off when you add promo code SDDU9S7F at checkout and clip the coupon on the site (it’s just below the price). These holders fit 9″x 13″ sized baking dishes.

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That means you can insulate and keep two dishes of food warm for only $11 instead of $30. What’s more, your Luncia carrier will arrive by Christmas if you order today as a Prime member.

Just add promo code SDDU9S7F and clip the 5% off coupon to bring the price down to $11 for the blue or the grey option.

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Grab this offer while it’s still around!


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Conquer Your Pup’s Dander and Fur With $700 Off a Cobalt or Charcoal Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum

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Best Home DealsBest Home DealsThe best home, kitchen, smart home, and automotive deals from around the web, updated daily.

Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum & Mop (Cobalt) | $200 | Best Buy

Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum & Mop (Charcoal) | $200 | Best Buy

Allergies can be bad enough as the seasons change. Don’t let pet hair and dander add to that by vacuuming it up early and often. That chore is easier said than done— unless you have a robot vacuum to do the work for you. This lovely bright cobalt Bobsweep PetHair Plus robot vacuum and mop, only $200 today at Best Buy seems like an ideal option. That’s a whopping $700 off, by the way.

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You can get the same deal for the charcoal version of the robot vac, too. This model is not only specially made for picking up pet hair, it self docks and charges when it’s finished with the work.

It also comes with a mop attachment, so it can take care of those kitchen floors for you as well. Grab it while it’s still available for this fantastic price!

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