Real estate agents might have noticed since the pandemic began how face masks make it more difficult to show their personality. Wearing a mask can conceal your expressions, hide your smile, muffle speech and lead to misunderstandings between you and whoever you’re talking too.
But at the same time, they’re essential in many cases to keep your clients comfortable in these pandemic times.
“I felt muzzled,” Learka Bosnak, a sales associate with Douglas Elliman of California in Pasadena, Calif., told The Wall Street Journal about the first time she met a client while wearing a mask. “I was constantly running around saying, ‘I’m smiling under here!’ This business is all about rapport, comfort level.”
So what can we do to overcome the problems associated with wearing a mask?
Above all else, experts say that it’s still important to smile. While your mouth is covered, your smile can still be perceived by others, and even be audible in your speech, British professional etiquette and coaching firm Debrett’s writes in a blog post.
Eye contact is equally important, so be sure not to wear any sunglasses while meeting your clients.
“Eye contact will become even more important when we can’t gauge each other’s expressions,” Debrett’s advises. “Eye contact is the basis of trust, releasing chemicals like oxytocin in the brain.”
Be sure to speak more distinctly too, Debrett’s says. Your speech will be a little muffled by the mask and people can’t read your lips to aid them, so you need to raise your voice a bit and speak more clearly.
Bosnak told the Journal how she went with colleagues to meet a body language expert in order to learn some more tips on how to interact with clients while wearing a mask. She said she learned some important advice, with the most important point being to “face the person, and make sure your feet are in the right place”.
She said that if you don’t do this, it signals that you aren’t listening to your client. “Now it’s become so rote, I don’t even think about not facing a client when I’m talking to them. If they are behind me and ask a question, I will turn around and look at them,” she said.
Bosnak added that it’s important to make sure your body language is positive and open, so you need to avoid things like slouching or crossing your arms. Doing so will help you to come across as more friendly and approachable, no matter if you’re wearing a mask or not.