When we first heard about the coronavirus, the CDC wasn’t yet advising people to wear masks, but now the message is clear: wear a mask whenever you interact with someone who’s not in your household because it may help slow the spread of the virus, especially when social distancing isn’t possible. Yet most people have never had to wear a mask before in their lives, making it new and unfamiliar territory that can cause anxiety or a lack of control.
We all may feel angry, frustrated, and unsafe to see someone in public who’s not wearing a mask, but remember that everyone is ultimately responsible for making their own decisions. While you can’t force anyone to do something they don’t want to do, you can provide gentle encouragement.
With that being said, here are some helpful communication tips to keep in mind when talking to your loved one about wearing a mask.
Listen to Their Concerns
The expression “you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar” applies here. Sometimes when we feel frustrated that someone isn’t doing what we know they should be doing, we can become unintentionally belligerent and argumentative, which only serves to shut the other person down. Dialogue becomes virtually impossible if you’re not willing to listen to the other person’s point of view.
Ask your loved one to share their feelings and worries and offer validation and empathy. For example, you might say, “I understand that it’s scary/difficult/unpleasant, and sometimes I feel that way too, but remember that we’re in this together.” Underlying anxiety is often a key reason why some people don’t want to wear masks, so it’s crucial to be patient, calm, and focused when talking to your loved one.
Share the Facts
Be prepared to provide important information, since your loved one may not fully understand why it’s necessary to wear a mask. Tell them that you’re concerned about their health and the health of those around them. Share that aerosolized coronavirus can remain in the air for up to three hours and that a mask can help prevent it from spreading. Explain to your loved one that while you know it might be uncomfortable or anxiety-provoking to wear a mask, they won’t stop breathing. They can always take it off as soon as it’s safe to do so, and they will get used to wearing the mask over time.
Ask Them to Do it for You
If your loved one still isn’t willing to wear a mask, you might try asking them to compromise by saying, “Would you consider wearing the mask for me? It would ease my worries and help me feel better.” Or you could also say something straightforward and gentle like, “Wearing a mask helps protect you and other people,” and leave it at that. You’re not trying to guilt them into wearing the mask, but you want to help them see that their actions have an impact on the people around them.
Purchase a Mask for Your Loved One
One of the best ways to encourage your loved one to wear a mask is to buy one for them or browse our website together to see the variety of designs and options we offer. Our affordable Boomer Nano-Silver Reusable Face Masks meet the most recent guidelines from the World Health Organization, leverage Nano-Silver Technology to prevent droplets from spreading and come in a wide range of sizes to ensure that your loved one and those around them are protected.
Keep in Mind
In the end, your loved one may need some time to think it over, so be prepared to let the issue go for the time being if they don’t immediately see your point. Also, be aware that the CDC recognizes that wearing masks may not always be possible and can, in some situations, exacerbate a physical or mental health condition, lead to a medical emergency or introduce significant safety concerns. For example, they advise not to wear a mask if people have trouble breathing or are unable to remove the mask without assistance. If this is the case for your loved one, it’s important to consider adaptations and alternatives and discuss your concerns with a healthcare provider.