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In the week that the wearing of face coverings becomes a requirement while out shopping across England (following Scotland’s lead earlier in July), Trevor Caffull, our Managing Director, shares a special message with colleagues. His message “don’t hide behind the mask; let the real you shine through” is relevant not just to our retail colleagues in our shops up and down the country, or our team members working in our offices and warehouses, but to all of us as we become more accustomed to wearing face coverings.  

“Don’t hide behind the mask; let the real you shine through”

By Trevor Caffull, Managing Director

The introduction of face coverings for all shoppers stimulates an interesting question of whether people are likely to behave differently ‘behind the mask’. Body language is an important part of human communication and with parts of the face covered, even if actual behaviour does not change, I wonder if we will perceive actions differently? Even a smile is harder to detect if the mouth cannot be seen, so perhaps we will have to be extra sensitive towards our customers to interpret their needs and questions.

Most of us spent our growing-up years reading about mask-wearing superheroes; Batman (and Robin), Spiderman, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Batgirl, Cyclops… to name but a few comic-strip characters who all wore masks, usually as an attempt to hide their true identity. So why did superheroes wear masks (and outfits)? Well, the obvious answer is that they did it to hide their real identity. Let’s face it, if Bruce Wayne hadn’t adopted the pseudonym of Batman, and had gone about his Batman business as plain old Bruce Wayne, then his enemies would have attacked his home and his ‘real-life’ business, Wayne Enterprises. Wayne knew he would be dealing with evil forces, so he protected himself by adopting the identity of Batman! The wearing of the mask also enabled our superheroes to adopt different behaviours without suspicion, usually with heroic outcomes that would not have been possible in their normal guise.

More recently we have seen front line NHS workers as heroes, some of them initially and tragically without masks, but more lately all behind the safety of a mask… our up-to-date, modern-day, masked heroes.

So, how will you cope when wearing your mask? Whether you work in a shop, warehouse or office environment, my guess is that over the next few weeks you will become used to the regular wearing of a mask (or face covering). Will you be heroic? Will your behaviour change? Or will you be the normal you?

It’s fine to play up to this semi-romantic notion of heroes, but my hope for you is that you will let the real you shine through. Most of us have experienced how lockdown seemed to make us more cognizant, aware and responsive to the needs of others… let’s make sure our masks aren’t something we hide behind, but that we still allow the real, caring person to shine through.

In the end, none of us are superheroes, but we all want to demonstrate that we care for each other and for our customers! 

Trevor

Shining examples: Our team at the Salvation Army charity shop in Altrincham has embraced mask-wearing with a smile and a dance routine! The team created a special 'Welcome Back' video for their customers ahead of their shop reopening on 6th July. Top row, from left to right are volunteers Natasha and Michelle, and Manager Linda Bentley. Bottom row, from left to right is Sales Assistant Sharon Powell, and volunteers Fred and Ray.