The Eyes Have It

woman in protective mask

The single most effective communication tool on the planet is the human face. Together with your voice and body language, you are uniquely and supremely equipped to communicate and interact with your fellow beings. There is no emotion that cannot be translated and understood through your facial expressions.

These days these fabulous tools are constrained behind a mask intended to keep others, and ourselves, safe and healthy. Wearing a protective mask is a simple task. It also dramatically limits how we use our faces to communicate. People can’t see if we’re smiling or frowning, if we’re friend or foe, interested or disengaged.

Our saving grace? Our eyes. The eyes have it. What is “it”? The window to the soul. We instinctively look first to the eyes to gauge and carry out our interactions.

Do you find yourself avoiding eye contact now that everyone is “hidden” behind a mask? It’s a natural response. We’re uncomfortable with the doubt that comes with the unknown. Is that person going to do something unexpected? What’s up with them? It’s within our power to derail this inclination and to reach out to connect, despite our wariness.

Now, we’re not completely cut off from our other abilities to connect and communicate. We still have our hands, our arms, our entire bodies at our disposal. However, just like the eyes, we often take for granted how expressive we can be if we put our whole body into it. Whatever your message, whether “it’s great to see you!” or “I’m disappointed that we can’t spend more time together” or “I’m feeling anxious and a little scared about this pandemic,” set the intention to include your whole body and make it be a part of the communication:

From your toes

to your nose

and out through your fingers,

don’t forget those!

Here’s the challenge: With everyone you meet on your intrepid journeys to secure food (and toilet paper), allow yourself to show how you’re feeling with your eyes. You might feel like you’re exaggerating your expression—you’re not. You are showing all of the care and meaning of how you feel and what you want to say in your eyes. Remember, this is mostly all they see when you wear a mask. Don’t let it limit how you express yourself or how you show others you feel. The eyes have it—and you have eyes!

This blog post was written by Laurie’s partner, Dan Brumer.

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