9 Ways to Encourage Compliance with Facemask Mandate
At Spectrum Health, we strongly encourage our patients, colleagues and families to wear masks, knowing that this is a key factor in preventing the spread of COVID-19. When speaking about non-compliance to Gov. Whitmer’s facemask mandate, think about using words that encourage learning and change, not those that might create conflict. Here are some strategies from Spectrum Health Clinical Psychologist Lyndsay Volpe-Bertram to help make these conversations productive and safe.
- Approach with curiosity.
Don’t assume that someone is intentionally non-compliant. Sometimes people simply forget and are happy to be reminded. If that’s not the case, ask questions such as, “Can you help me understand?” or “Will you share your concerns with me?” This will help you gather more information.
- Be mindful of your body language.
Are your arms crossed? Are you standing over someone, or too close? If someone without a mask is too close, politely ask them to provide additional space. Relax your arms at your sides and avoid pointing at someone while talking with them.
- Speak in a calm and low tone.
Speaking in a quiet voice can help to decrease tension and anger.
- Use “I“ statements.
Try saying things like, “I’m confused why you’re not wearing a mask,” or “I wonder if you forgot your mask.” Phrases such as “I feel uncomfortable” or “I worry about your safety” will be better received than, “You need to wear a mask” or “You are wrong,” which will likely put the person on the defensive and make them less likely to speak to you.
- Look for ways to educate.
If the person you’re speaking to says something like, “Masks are unsafe because I’m breathing in my own air,” or “I’m being deprived of oxygen,” dispel these myths with science-based information, ideally from people or publications they respect.
- Promote empathy.
We are not just wearing masks for our own health, but for the health and safety of others. It may help if the person can identify someone that they want to protect.
- Know when to walk away.
If a conversation becomes heated, step away and revisit the subject later, if possible. Be mindful of your own safety, especially if the conversation is with someone you don’t know well.
- Respond to emotion.
Labeling how someone might be feeling and asking if you are correct is a way to validate their emotions. For example, “It looks like you might be feeling angry, is that right?” If you’re correct, then you may ask how to help diffuse that emotion and have a conversation.
- Look for solutions.
If someone is upset because the mandate prohibits them from entering a store or restaurant, help them identify other options. Can someone else shop for them? Can they come back later with a mask or accept a mask from an employee? Are they able to order online?
People are at the heart of everything we do, and the inspiration for our legacy of outstanding outcomes, innovation, strong community partnerships, philanthropy and transparency. Corewell Health is a not-for-profit health system that provides health care and coverage with an exceptional team of 60,000+ dedicated people—including more than 11,500 physicians and advanced practice providers and more than 15,000 nurses providing care and services in 21 hospitals, 300+ outpatient locations and several post-acute facilities—and Priority Health, a provider-sponsored health plan serving more than 1.3 million members. Through experience and collaboration, we are reimagining a better, more equitable model of health and wellness. For more information, visit corewellhealth.org.
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