How often have you talked with another person who never looked you in the eye during the entire conversation? Or they have looked at your briefly then their eyes shift to some point behind you or even shift to their phones or tablets. How have you felt while trying to have a discussion with a person who was not looking at you?
65% of our communication skills comes from non-verbal communication and this includes eye contact. The eyes are often expressed as ‘windows to the soul’. Our eyes reflect our sincerity and integrity.
When I was a young teenager, I had a relative tell me repeatedly that I had the most beautiful, expressive eyes. This relative went on to explain that by looking at my eyes they could see my thoughts and feelings. I was painfully shy, and it seemed I often got in trouble with my mom without saying a word. In my young teenage brain, I figured if I quite looking people in the eye then I they wouldn’t be able to read me so easily. A few years went by and I as I was preparing to enter as a freshman in college I had to change my bad habit of not looking people in the eye when I spoke with them. It took work and perseverance as I continually reminded myself to make and keep eye contact. Today we are surrounded by more distractions than ever before. When we are in a networking situation you might catch someone from your peripheral vision whom you want to speak with, your phone might buzz or receive a text message. We must be diligent in not succumbing to the temptation to look away. If you want to become a master of eye contact, it’s going to take practice.
Making eye contact demonstrates:
- You’re a good listener. (Good eye contact indicates your focused and paying attention)
- Builds a connection with the other person
- Builds trust
- Conveys concern
- Gives you credibility
As in my experience, we can learn the skill of making and keeping eye contact… it takes practice! Eye contact is one of the most powerful means of communicating confidence and conviction. If you are one of those who struggle to make and keep eye contact, set a goal and work hard this week to make eye contact with everyone you encounter.