When is the last time you saw someone? We’re not talking about the last time you were in the presence of another person, we’re talking about eye contact—intentional, genuine and attentive eye contact.
Over the years we have gotten comfortable with focusing our eyes downward in an effort to check out our smart phones. Looking people in the eye has become challenging, especially for younger people. There’s also the prevalence of video conferences and meetings, which only further complicate the problem.
Lack of eye contact only makes it more difficult to develop and maintain relationships, so here are five things for you to think about next time you’re in a face-to-face conversation with someone.
Speak with Your Eyes
It doesn’t take words to communicate how interested and receptive you are during a conversation. Keep your face relaxed when you’re talking with someone, allowing your eyes to meet theirs for up to five seconds at a time.
Listen to Their Eyes
Even without looking directly into someone’s eyes, you can pick up on plenty of visual clues that give a hint about what they are thinking. Fear? Excitement? Boredom? Don’t look past a person: be watchful and observant.
Look for the “Tell”
You hear it in poker games all the time, “Look for the tell.” People are always telling you something, it’s just a matter of noticing it. He can’t make eye contact with you. Why? Maybe he’s worried about giving bad news or would prefer to be somewhere else.
When you’re giving a presentation, you need to look at everyone in the room. Be intentional. Engage while you’re speaking; lock in and make brief eye contact with as many individuals in the room as you can. It’s a great way to communicate your message in the most powerful way possible.
…But Don’t be Creepy.
As critical as eye contact is, don’t overdo it. Blink normally. Don’t squint or stare. You don’t want to make someone uncomfortable with an extended, unbroken gaze. Just remain present—and pay attention.