How to Better Understand People Speaking Through a Mask
While Acadiana does its part in slowing the spread of the Coronavirus by wearing face masks, face masks have caused a problem with communication and seeing facial expressions.
I don't know about you, but most of the time I can't understand people wearing masks and find myself asking repeatedly for them to repeat themselves. Often, I never understand what they tell me. I feel like an idiot and walk away, too embarrassed to ask them to say whatever it is they were trying to say to me...again.
It's important to note here, although my ears are not shiny and new and have been totally abused over the years...I CAN hear folks. I just can't understand them.
If you are experiencing the same difficulties, Dr. Eric Christensen, an Audiologist with Carris Health, offers these 10 suggestions when it comes to communicating with someone wearing a mask.
- Do not remove your mask to speak.
- Get the person's attention by saying their name or gesturing to them.
- Before you begin, make sure they can hear and understand you.
- Maintain good eye contact and face the person you're speaking to, at a safe distance.
- Speak at a normal or slightly slower pace.
- Speak slightly louder but natural. Do not yell or over-enunciate.
- Use shorter, everyday phrases and words.
- Rephrase rather than repeat words that were not understood.
- Use gestures and point.
- Use a pen and paper or smartphone with speech-to-test recognition if needed.
Experts suggest COVID-19 will be around for some time, therefore, so will facial masks. It's our new way of life. Even though facial masks make it difficult for us to see each other's expressions and hinder communication, always follow state and federal guidelines.