Have you ever thought about the role your face plays in expressing emotion? As a practitioner supporting clients with anxiety, depression and stress, I’ve become much more aware in recent months of the best practices for conveying emotion when I’m working masked. When most of my face is hidden, what can I do to put people at ease?
Here are a few tips on how to communicate your empathy from behind the mask.
Mirroring - When we are with another person, physical mirroring is something we do unconsciously to convey empathy. This could be something like leaning in, or crossing your legs to match how the other person is sitting. It also works the other way around where I assume open, grounded, calm postures to help foster the same in clients.
Smile with your eyes - A person’s eyes can tell you so much about how they’re really feeling. When someone is genuinely happy within, it really shows in their eyes. I remind myself that when I’m speaking with clients, even if they can’t see the smile on my lips, they can tell it’s there by looking at my eyes.
Vocal tone - I tend to use a lot of humour during my sessions. When I am wearing a mask, I find that I’m more easily understood if I slow down, put the effort into enunciating, and speak from my diaphragm. Taking on a lyrical way of speaking also helps to draw interest and elicit better comprehension.