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Is There a Smile Behind the Mask?

Jim Newcomb | | June 18, 2020

Is There a Smile Behind the Mask_

The customer service industry has been turned on its head, closed, and is reinventing itself to re-open. In addition to social distancing, which requires restaurants to lose half their tables and retail to limit their occupancy, all customer-facing personnel are required to wear masks. Beyond that, there are requirements across the country that require masking-up in public – even on beaches in some municipalities. There are so many issues that mask-wearing brings up, but there are three practical issues that need to be addressed: Body Language, Etiquette, and Fogging Glasses. This last one seems out of place, but it’s a big deal if the wearer can’t see what they are doing — then, it becomes a fundamental issue.

Body Language

Facial expressions are a part of the body language we use in communicating basic information, like being friendly vs. aggressive, or smiling vs. frowning. In public-facing jobs, like retail and hospitality, this becomes an issue that needs to be emphasized. As customer service professionals, we lose a significant part of our effectiveness if we aren’t hospitable, which starts with a smile. It seems overly simplified, but the bottom line is that we need to smile behind the mask – even if no one can see it. The main reason is that we all know that when we smile, it shows up in our eyes — and, secondarily, smiling makes us feel better.


Keep in mind that the wearing of a non-medical face mask is for the protection of the public, not the wearer. It’s a two-way street. We wear a mask for the good of the general public because, unless we’ve been tested, we don’t know whether or not we are an asymptomatic carrier. However, we can’t control what others do, and if a heavy-breathing jogger runs by without a mask, all of your precautions are out the window – or through the mask in this case. Whether or not your community requires mask-wearing in public, if you choose not to wear a mask, you should respect others’ desires not to get infected by honoring social distancing. It’s just proper etiquette.

Fogging Glasses

Then there’s the how-to and the practicality of wearing a face mask. There are many online resources about how to make and how to wear cloth face masks, including the CDC and WHO. There’s even a YouTube video of the Surgeon General showing a really easy technique for making a mask out of a t-shirt.

The biggest practical issue for the part of the population that wears glasses is fogging. The cause is hot, moist breath going up through a gap around the nose area in the mask. The solution is to close the gap. There are many suggested solutions. Treating the glasses with anything from soap to anti-fog solutions is less effective than creating a barrier to the moist air going up through the gap. There are two main solutions. One is to use wire or metal in the face mask around the bridge of the nose, by either buying masks that are designed that way, inserting wire into the mask, or making your own mask with wire, such as a pipe cleaner, sewn in. A quick YouTube search shows how to do this, but assuming you’re not going to make your own, the easiest solution is to create a barrier worn under the top part of the mask using either toilet paper or facial tissue. The best demonstration found, after painfully viewing dozens of videos, was by Doctor Eye Health on How To Keep Glasses from Fogging While Wearing a Face Mask.

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