This is the most effective way to find out how someone is really feeling while wearing a face mask.

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Protective masks have become a health essential due to the continued spread of COVID-19. But while a face covering is important, the fabric hides a large portion of the face—limiting our ability to use facial cues to tell how people are really feeling. According to Today, you can still recognize emotion in more ways than with just a smile. "We're lucky a lot of information shows up in the eyes and the eyebrows," body language expert Janine Driver, founder and president of the Body Language Institute, said. "With true happiness, we see it with the wrinkles on the side of our eyes."

woman wearing fask mask waiting for a train
Credit: Getty / Halfpoint Images

While looking directly at someone's smile is seemingly the easiest way to recognize their joy, psychologist and facial expression expert Paul Ekman said that the most accurate depiction of a "true enjoyment smile" can actually be found in the crow's feet around the eyes, when they narrow and crinkle.

Driver noted that when she's wearing a mask, she knows that it might not give off the friendliest energy, but looking at someone face to face can make a big difference. "Remember that you're wearing a mask, which is intimidating," she said. "Just the power of giving someone eye contact in this new crazy world is going to change everything."

With a face covering, seeing someone's eyes also becomes important in gauging their emotions. A key way to ensure easier interactions while wearing a face mask is to avoid wearing sunglasses. "You are blocking how you are feeling from the world," Driver noted. "When we can't see your eyes, we can't interpret your emotions, and if we can't interpret your emotions, we are left with uncertainty," she said. "And this uncertainty leads to us not trusting you and us feeling uncomfortable around you." The experts also recommend keeping your arms unfolded and uncrossed, and making sure that your head, eyes, and eyebrows are relaxed, as this gives off calming energy.

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