Word Of the Week #12: Eye Contact

April 20, 2009 by  

Eye Contact: connecting with another person without speaking.

Eye Contact

Did you know that your eye contact makes up about 55% of your nonverbal message? What is your first reaction to people who speak to you without making eye contact? Do you trust them? Do they appear to be uncaring? Do you think they are hiding something?

Most comments about lack of eye contact are negative or unfavorable. Good communicators and good listeners develop positive eye contact with other people. Eye contact is an important part of being perceived as an honest, sincere, and confident person.

I have always said that if you make eye contact with another person for just one second you will create a connection. Continue that eye contact for three seconds and you will have started a relationship!

This week focus on making eye contact with everyone that you interact with at work, play or home. Notice if you feel a connection more quickly and how the other person responds.

Reader Responses

“What you see is just a reflection in the mirror of someone else that is just like you! Someone who doesn’t try to take life so seriously, someone who loves life and who loves people. I truly do, as I know you do. You are the “genuine article” and sorry to say, there aren’t too many people like us in this world of ours. Keep smiling, people will wonder what you have been up to.” — Don Vance

“I have always looked at people in the eyes when speaking and listening to them. It shows they have my attention. After all, we want others to pay attention to us. In my first book, I asked Al McGuire what it was he looked for in a basketball player besides obvious skills. “If they can look me in the eyes when they talk to me, and how they treat their parents. That’s how I know how they’ll treat me. I always remembered that quote. Looking someone in the eye when saying “Good Morning,” or saying “hello,” shows interest. After all, the windows are the eyes to the soul. I don’t know if you recalled the vice presidential debate. Vice President Cheney continued looking down while he was answering questions that night. It was as if he did not believe what he was saying. His mannerisms that evening were very telling, especially the way he played with his hands. Thanks for the reminder. I always remember that the story is in our eyes.” — “Warrior” Joe Moran

“After reading this, I made it a point to look at each and everyone person in my spin class before I started. Serveral students came up to me at the end and said it was the best class I had taught. Wow to the power of connecting with your eyes.” –Sandra Hewick

“Thanks for continuing to send me your messages. In general you are correct about negative perceptions of lack of eye contact, especially in business exchanges – even customers feel slighted and thier presence not validated in a retail exchange that lacks eye contact. However, I was a little frustrated with this weeks WOW. It is very ethnocentric and in our diverse work force and International Business climate I was disappointed that you made no mention that direct eye contact is the Western norm. It is highly disrespectful to First Americans and to individuals with a Far East, Middle Eastern or North African heritage. Even Americans whose ancestor hails back to those cultures may be offended at a gut level even though they have been trained in Western mannerisms. In the business world – putting one’s client or partners at ease is the begining of building trust. Becoming sensitive and attuned to individual business situations without stereotypical expectations is the key to starting a trust based relationship. We must train ourselves to “see” the person(s) we are working with and not just the situational business at hand.” –Julie Griffin

“I want to encourage you to continue to send these “Great Words of Wisdom”,they encourage me and inspire me, they are everyday common sense things but somehow life get’s to busy that the obvious is not so obvious any more.” — Brenda Moreno