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Communicating in a Masked World, Part III: Trying Harder Makes Us More Aware

This post was written by Hannah Morris, Director of Assessment & Advancement at The Latimer Group.

“I’m smiling at you.”

“And I’m giving you a tired face.”

This was the exchange I had with my daughter the other day as we were walking in public, masked. We had gone a long distance and I wanted to show her I was impressed with her effort; she wanted to let me know that it was more than she had signed up for.

As we continue to navigate the masked world, many of us are becoming more and more aware that the elements that get “muffled” – the audibility of our voice and the visibility of our lips and facial expressions – are still important and need new avenues of expression. I am seeing people take more time and effort to project and enunciate their words, use the periphery of their masks to show more expression, and verbalize some of their reactions.

This is human beings at their best. They are adapting – modifying their instincts to meet the new environment they’re faced with.

There is another place where this is happening, too: in virtual communication.

People’s reactions – engagement, agreement, attention, emotion – get muffled here, too. Those people we can see fit into tiny boxes, those we can’t exist only in our mind’s eye and on the participant list.

Some of us are still in the early stages of adaptation here. We are still resisting the environment, the tools, and the new behaviors they require.

Others are starting to ask better questions and being more thoughtful about how to generate meaningful discussion. They are getting more comfortable being on video and more aware of their body language when speaking and listening. They are reacting to the cues they have and learning more from them.

Those who are adapting are not only finding greater success and satisfaction, they are actively building their awareness – self-awareness, awareness of others, and situational awareness. They are getting stronger and stronger with each interaction. And ultimately, whether or not masks and videoconferencing will be part of their reality in 2022 and beyond, this group of “early adaptors” will be well served by these efforts.

Take a moment to consider where you are on your journey.

How conscious are you of your communication skills – personally and professionally – in these new environments? How much have they changed? Besides the exhaustion we all feel, are you getting the results you are looking for? If not, where could you make slight modifications or try out a new technique? Keep in mind: small changes can have big impact here.

Ultimately, with change, there is a moment of choice. And if you could graph an individual’s journey, you would see that that choice to change is a visible inflection point where direction shifts, and benefit increases.

If you’re just getting there, don’t worry, there is still plenty of time and the rewards are real.

At The Latimer Group, we believe that great communication skills can change the world. We transform people and organizations with simple, repeatable techniques and mindsets. We teach persuasive communication skills through an integrated platform of corporate training, coaching, and eLearning. To learn more about how we can transform your organization, e-mail us at info@TheLatimerGroup.com

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