Word Of the Week #533: Eye Contact

October 22, 2014 by  

Eye Contact – connecting with another person without speaking.

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?

This is #2 of my 7 Simple Steps of Service. Last week I wrote, “If you want to be memorable and develop long lasting relationships, you need to recognize and pay attention to all of the people you come in contact with.”

Did you know that your body language, which includes eye contact, makes up about 55% of your nonverbal message? And it’s five times more powerful than the words you speak! 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!

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.

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When I first used this WOW over 10 years ago this is what one reader wrote. “After reading this, I made it a point to look at each and every person in my spin class before I started. Several 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

Then another reader wrote, “In general you are correct about negative perceptions of lack of eye contact, especially in business exchanges – even customers feel slighted and their presence not validated in a retail exchange that lacks eye contact. 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 beginning 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

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. Do you make eye contact with your customers, members, guests and clients when you are the phone or helping someone so they feel acknowledged? Have you ever felt ignored because you were “not seen” by another person?

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