Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic there has been a lot of debate about wearing masks. Some people see them as restrictive while others see them as protective. If you are an at-risk worker or have family members that are at-risk, masks may be a comfort to you. However, you may have co-workers that are opposed to wearing masks. Here are some tips for politely asking your co-workers to wear masks while at work:

Don’t Lecture

People rarely want to listen to someone that tells them off. Don’t simply tell your co-workers that they should be wearing masks and lecture them about the danger they may be putting others in. That will only cause arguments. Instead, try to give your co-workers the benefit of the doubt. For example, your co-worker may not be opposed to mask wearing, but instead be forgetful of wearing or bringing a mask. Start with gentle reminders instead of lecturing.

Focus on Common Ground

Too many discussions are carried with differences in mind, not similarities. If you want someone to start agreeing with you and to diffuse tension, start with things you can both agree on. Some potential topics to start with are a dislike of the pandemic, a want to prevent the spread of COVID-19, or a desire to stay healthy. If you can find common ground on these things, you can most likely find common ground on mask wearing.

Report It

Your co-workers may disregard your concerns, but they can’t disregard their supervisor’s instructions. If you have told a co-worker about your concerns multiple times and they haven’t listened, you can report your concerns to a manager. If you are a manager, you can enforce mask wearing if it’s in line with your company’s safety guidelines.

Use these tips to help you navigate difficult conversations about mask wearing with co-workers.