MASKS NO LONGER REQUIRED!
… around other vaccinated people … when gathering outside … when alone outside … when … when … when. HALLELUJEH! Although we are not completely there yet … we are definitely on the way. Finally, we find ourselves being able to reenter a world and way of living that has some resemblance to what we all considered to be ‘normal’. Sixteen months later of living in ways that we never could have imagined and over which we had little control.
As welcome as the need to ‘mask’ is on the wane, I get curious as I contemplate what the mask may have also provided in addition to our protection from COVID? What are the various feelings, thoughts and emotions that we have gotten used to hiding that are now ‘there’ for others to see? And … now being on display, will they help or hinder what we want to achieve?
Although the question applies to all aspects of our lives, I want to explore it in work/business relationships. For many, using the likes of ‘zoom’ allowed us to ‘meet’ without a mask so that seemed quite normal. Still, once the call was complete, we felt the freedom to have reactions without being seen by others around. We could complain … to ourselves. We could berate another on the team or within the company and they would never know. However, going forward and the potential of returning to the office at least part-time we lose the privacy of our reactions and feelings.
It seems prudent that we be very aware of this to avoid unintended consequences. Here are just some of the ‘protections’ that go away along with the masks:
- The ability to hide our unbridled frustration
With another person, a direction or with the work that isn’t getting finished in a timely manner.
- The ability to mask anger or displeasure with any aspect of the work being done or requests made of us
Without our masks we must relearn how to effectively convey our displeasure in a way that gets desired results without damaging the needed relationship.
- The ability to hide our true identify as a person
Perhaps we want to be seen as a team player when we don’t’ really care for the work of the team. Perhaps a
person wants to play the role she/he believe is expected of them rather than allow their true selves to show. This was just easier when wearing an actual COVID related mask.
- The ability to be in control of our emotions we want to display
Obviously we have reactions to many things we hear and witness in our day to day lives. This certainly is the case in the workplace. The actual masks we have been wearing for the past 16 months have enabled us to relax without concern that others might easily be able to read our emotional reactions.
- Being able to hide our weaknesses
This mask allows us to better display the strengths we feel we have and distract from others seeing what we perceived as our weaknesses. Our confidence is better conveyed as we want it to be seen.
Being able to play the expected role in any given situation regardless of our true feelings
Do you want to sound enthusiastic or excited about the ‘plan’? Do you want to make a positive impression to get the sale? Do you want to come across as someone’s new friend to get them to support what you want them to do? The COVID mask has made that easier for your voice alone can convey the way you want to be ‘seen’.
The wearing of masks has been around through the ages. To all people, they serve a function and there is a time and place for each of them. We wear them from time to time to protect and project ourselves when/as necessary and appropriate.
- We use them to present ourselves as we think we should or need to.
- We use masks to hide true feelings or to play a role that we believe is expected of us.
- We use masks to hopefully be seen by others as we want to be seen.
- We use masks to protect ourselves from ill-intentioned people and a way to keep them at arm’s length until we allow them into our area a bit at a time.
With COVID and the imposed need/requirement to wear masks, we were given a way to mask any situation behind the cloth of which these were made. Being intentional about donning our masks just made the various ways we used the imagined masks easier. We didn’t have to give as much thought to how and to whom we wanted to project ourselves or which mask to wear because they provided real protection for many different situations.
With masks gone and along with the new sense of regained freedoms, we should recognize that it now prudent for us all to be consciously aware of how we do and how we want to project ourselves to those around us. We should be very aware of how much easier wearing an actual mask made it for us to have our thoughts and feelings without being easily ‘read’ by others. And now, the eyes are back upon us. With faces visible, the thoughts and emotions we have are still real and present. How we choose to convey them … or not … is bound to have an impact on our individual and collective success in whatever we do.