We communicate with our eyes now
The coronavirus, which affects our lives in many issues from daily life to work schedule and social interaction, has also changed communication habits. The absence of lip movements with the use of masks, which is vital in combating the pandemic, prompted people to focus on the eyes and communicate loudly. Dr. Filiz Mergen, Lecturer at Applied English and Translation Program, Izmir University of Economics (IUE), said, “We started talking loudly to make it easier to be understood. Hand gestures, the most important element of verbal communication, gained more importance. Focusing on the speaker's eyes also supports us in this adaptation process.”
IUE Vocational School Applied English and Translation Program Lecturer, Dr. Filiz Mergen drew attention to the fact that communication has become difficult especially for the hearing impaired during the coronavirus period.
WE KEEP UP WITH THE CHANGING CONDITIONS
Stating that visuality is an important source of information that affects the perception of speech, Dr. Mergen said, “Speech becomes understandable by combining other conditions such as the speaker's lip movements, facial expressions and gestures, and posture. Sometimes, we transfer the message we want to convey to the other person non-verbally and we understand what is being said. However, we have been deprived of these supportive elements for a while that facilitate communication with masks covering a significant part of our face. We may have difficulty understanding the conversations of the other person with the use of masks. However, the human brain has an enormous flexible structure that can adapt to innovations. Thanks to our ability to keep up with changing conditions, we are about to get used to this situation. For example, we started talking loudly to make it easier to be understood. Hand gestures, the most important element of verbal communication, also gained more importance. Focusing on the speaker's eyes also significantly supports us in this adaptation process.”
WE MUST USE A MASK TO PROTECT FROM THE VIRUS
Stating that with the different speaking speed, style and tone of voice, what a person says is understood within milliseconds, Dr. Mergen said that sounds of language are made meaningful with visual information. Emphasizing that a facial expression appropriate to the language content in addition to the words used in speech makes the messages to be conveyed stronger, Dr. Mergen stated that lip movements are a complementary element in communication for both the speaker and the listener. Dr. Mergen stated the following: “We have to use masks to stay away from the virus, which we learned that is spread through droplets from our mouth while talking. However, when talking with a mask, we sometimes have difficulty understanding what the other person is saying. This seems more difficult, especially in crowded environments. Speaking in a whisper became almost impossible due to social distance rules. Communication became extremely difficult, especially for the hearing impaired who made sense of what is said by reading lips. Some designers have designed masks made of transparent material in the mouth area. Masks not only affected our perception of language, but also the emotional content expressed by language.”