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Facemasks and Communication: Can We Make it Easier?

Facemasks and Communication

Over the course of the pandemic so far, one thing we have realized is that face masks work and are of prime importance - even if many Americans refuse to believe it! Still, adding an entirely new piece of apparel to our everyday attire has not entirely been a walk in the park. One way all of us have been inconvenienced is with the muffling of normally robust voices around us. 

Yes, all facemasks have made communication slightly more difficult. This is not just because voices are a bit more muted and muffled lately, it is also because we are unable to see facial expressions as freely as we could in the pre-pandemic era.

Since the Coronavirus is not exactly going away entirely anytime soon and facemasks will remain a part of our lives for a while, let us look at tips on how we can improve communication between each other:

Surgical Masks Above the Rest

Research has shown that the 3-ply surgical masks hinder communication the least out of all the face masks that people use frequently. The 3-ply surgical masks have around a 95% efficacy and are loosely fitted compared to the N-95 and other masks. They are made of non-woven fabric which also helps convey your voice easily.

The same cannot be said for the N95 or the cloth masks. The fabric of cloth masks muffles voices and makes it difficult to communicate. Other than that, cloth masks are also more tightly fitted which prevents sound from escaping effectively. N95 masks are also made of tightly knitted fabric and are fitted almost completely to contour the face. Because of this, the voices of people speaking are muffled and difficult to decipher at times.

Don’t Rely on Just Words for Expression

Facial expressions can be conveyed through the eyes very effectively. In fact, eyes are just below words when it comes to being expressive. Use your eyebrows when communicating to make sure people understand your stance on a matter as best as possible.

Reduce Background Noise

One thing that happened in the pre-pandemic era was that background noises became, well, too much. We constantly have music from speakers, shows on the television, Videos on the internet, and even traffic noises bombarding our ears. This is one of the biggest reasons why it is so difficult to understand voices from behind the mask. Yes, the voices are muffled but the external noises make it that much harder to focus on what is being said. 

So do your part for the environment and reduce noise pollution. Switch off the TV when no one is watching, reduce background music whenever you can, and make the world a slightly quieter place where you can decipher words coming from behind a mask.

Face to Face Communication

Try your best to communicate with people facing them directly. When you are standing in front of a person and talking, they can focus on your voice better and they can also interpret your facial expressions to the best of their ability. 


Face masks have made daily communication slightly more inconvenient, however, the issue is not unresolvable. We can adopt new ways of communicating with each other and make it easier for ourselves.