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Etiquette expert says eye contact and good posture are important social cues in this new norm

Posted at 10:21 AM, May 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-04 19:10:17-04

CLEVELAND — As some of us head back to work today, things are going to look and feel much different.

Cues that we depend on to gauge social interactions aren’t the same. The world of handshaking and hugs seems far behind us.

“It’s going to be hard for us to break those habits as we go forward,” said Catherine Holloway of Etiquette Consulting Services. “The traditional half hug, the air kiss, the traditional hug, even the fist bump all those things are just put on hold for the meantime.”

Holloway said we’re going to have to rely heavily on eye contact and good posture.

“Most people will be wearing a mask or gloves of some sort and that’s a reminder to us, sort of like a rubber band on our finger, that there’s something different here and I need to act differently in this situation,” she said.

She said good posture communicates our confidence and willingness for engagement and eye contact tells a lot about how a person is feeling.

“Your eye contact and your eyebrows are going to communicate for you now,” she said.

Eye contact is also important because people can’t see you smile, but she said just because someone can’t see your mouth move, they can hear your smile in your voice and see it in your eyes.

“The smile and the tone is just really up there now as the way of communicating,” said Holloway. “People are going to be listening to your voice and how you're speaking to them vs seeing your smile and that is critical to maintaining good interpersonal skills with someone, whether it's a stranger in the store or on the sidewalk or whether you're going back into the work place.”

She said it’s time to go back to basic niceties: using the words hello, goodbye, please, thank you and excuse me, can go a long way.

If you feel like someone is getting in your personal 6 feet of space she said just be polite about asking them to move.

“Just kindly say, I feel comfortable with the 6 ft. guidelines. Most coworkers, friends and family members understand,” said Holloway.