Can We Build Rapport While Wearing A Mask?

During this time of COVID-19 communication between one another becomes more challenging for the obvious reason that masks, a necessary component of fighting the pandemic, hide the parts of our faces that display facial expressions that we use without thinking to convey as well as perceive sincerity, trustworthiness, and good intentions.

In instances where there is incongruity between what is spoken verbally and what is displayed non-verbally, people instinctively lend greater weight to the latter. Unfortunately, if your expressions are concealed by a mask, that can happen more often.

From a public health stand point, wearing masks is a absolute must in the midst of this pandemic, and we must not stop doing so just because the masks present certain challenges.

It appears to me that the quality of your voice makes a difference in how people respond emotionally to what you say, and this is true in both personal and professional interactions. If you say the exact same things but in different tones, people will respond differently. When we wear masks, our voices must play a bigger part than usual. You can do the following:

  • Pause: Visual cues of the mouth help us to see when a speaker is pausing for a response.
  • Accentuate: Avoid monotony by accentuating key phrases and information, but do not always accentuate in the same manner. Use different intonation.
  • Volume: Masks have a slight muffling effect so you must speak louder (but do not shout).
  • Emotion: In appropriate moments, attempt to make your voice more expressive by showing positive emotions such as excitement, awe, and gratitude. However, do this in moderation since you do not want to appear to be performing.
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