Masking indoors and in crowded spaces has become part of a regular routine but sometimes people forget or are wearing a face covering ineffectively. It can feel awkward to remind others of this expectation, especially when we are in social or professional settings with people we see on a regular basis. If you notice students or colleagues not wearing their masks correctly, a kind reminder can go a long way to reinforcing expectations about keeping our community safe while maintaining cordial relationships.
An effective way to support others when this happens is to assume they have good intentions and take a non-judgmental approach when talking to them. One way to do this is to try an “I” statement.
-Start with explaining what your concern is
“When you don’t have your face covering on…”
-Next share the impact on you
“I feel…concerned about talking to you indoors.”
-Assume their best intentions (this helps the person to be more receptive to what you’re asking of them by reducing defensiveness)
“I imagine…you might have just forgotten to put it back on after stepping out of your space.”
-Share why this is important to you
“I want…to feel comfortable talking to you and make sure that there isn’t unnecessary exposure.”
-Then end with your ask
“Would you consider making sure you’ve got your face covering on and worn properly in our shared spaces?”
If you are on the receiving end of this feedback, it may be helpful to remember that someone asking us to mask up is doing so out of care for our well-being and the safety of our campus. Reacting non-defensively and responding by putting on a well-fitting mask so it covers both the nose and mouth is key to reducing transmission risk and allows for ongoing honest communication about the challenges of living in a world with COVID-19.