How to use your body language to communicate while wearing a mask

We all remember Tyra Banks’ famous term she bestowed on her America’s Next Top Model contestants by telling them to “Smize.” To “Smize” is Tyra’s term for smiling with your eyes. Many of us are now wishing we had paid more attention to her words during that series.

The concept of smiling with your eyes has never been more critical than it is now. In 2020, with many states having either a mask requirement or a mask request, we are all adjusting to this new reality, where we can only decipher a mood from half of an individual’s face.

So, what can we do to improve partially faceless communication?

We work with what we have! Believe it or not, your eyes and eyebrows can give an impression without having to see your mouth at all. Let’s go over some tips and tricks from a few experts!

How Can I Improve My Smize Communication?

Prior to the current use of masks, we could still tell quite the story with our eyes alone. We tend to underestimate the effect that eye contact can have on the impression we are giving to others.

How can we improve upon utilizing our eyes to give the right impression? John has a few interesting tips to share!

“Eyes are windows to the soul. Due to the current pandemic, we are all wearing masks when interacting with family, friends, and strangers. Even if your mouth is not visible, continue smiling as you would typically do. Your eyes will immediately light up, and it creates a friendly atmosphere. Maintain eye contact to convey that you are interested in listening.  Holding eye contact for too long makes one feel awkward. Remember to break eye contact and look away briefly. The general rule is to look away once every five sentences.  – John, Financial Freedom Countdown

As you can see, the eyes are a powerful form of communication. In addition to your eyes, you will also want to pay attention to it.

Your Eyebrows

John provided some great tips to understand how to utilize your facial features to improve communication. Your eyes are essential, but your eyebrows accompany them.

“Pay attention to what your eyebrows are doing. Raised eyebrows show you’re interested, whereas squinting could unintentionally make you appear angry or aggressive” – Amanda, career blogger. 

Have you ever been listening to a conversation and raised an eyebrow without even realizing it? I guarantee someone noticed and knew exactly what you were thinking!

Non-Verbal Communication

It is imperative to think about your non-verbal communication. If you did not pay too much attention to it until now, you would be surprised by this next fact.

Did you know that, according to Psychology Today, an estimated 80-90% of all body language communication is completely non-verbal? This statistic does vary depending on the situation, but the numbers are still quite surprising!

However, you do not have to be an expert to better understand non-verbal communication skills.

“Well, I didn’t study eyes per se, but I would say that people need to be even more aware of their nonverbal eye communication right now because that’s all people can see. Eye contact will be vital, plus trying to limit and/or accentuate frowns, eye-rolls, or other non-verbals will be essential to get your point across. Keep smiling because most people can tell you’re smiling by looking at your eyes. “-Tawnya, Special Education teacher, and blogger.

The Bottom Line

Actors and actresses have been studying and honing in on proper body language and communication for years. Now it is our turn to learn!

If you are interested in reading a bit more about the importance and power of body language, you may want to check out the book ‘The Definitive Book of Body Language’ by Allan and Barbara Pease. You can find a full review of this interesting book at The New York Times.

For now, all we can do is try our best. Practice some of the tips and tricks listed above, and practice with your masks in the mirror.

But do not forget, no matter what, to keep on smiling!