It doesn’t matter how advanced technology becomes, how well padded a résumé is, or how many accreditations and degrees someone has, there are some instinctual things that people do that I can’t help but notice such as making eye contact.
A few times today, while I was walking around, I noticed how out of the way people go just to avoid eye contact. I’m 6′ 5″ tall, and I know that I can seem somewhat intimidating to those who don’t know me, but it just drives me nuts when people can’t make eye contact.
When I engage in conversations, I look into the person’s eyes. I don’t know if it is timidness, or if there is some other underlying reason, but I’m putting this out there for you to know: make eye contact. If you can’t look me in the eye, then either I have something in my teeth, you are intimidated, or there’s something wrong.
- If I have something in my teeth, tell me.
- If you are intimidated by me, don’t be, unless you have a good reason.
- If there’s something wrong, then you better put it out there.
Eye Contact: Attention
Looking people in the eye means that you are giving them your full attention. Put the stupid iPhone down, or take your eyes off the monitor. The worst is when someone comes to ask me a question, and I look at them to let them know they have my attention, yet they are toying around on their phone as they fumble to form a coherent sentence.
If you approach someone, be ready to give them your full attention, or you are wasting both of our time.
Eye Contact: Confidence
Eye contact displays confidence. If you can give me eye contact and explain something clearly, then you are demonstrating to me a confidence about what you have to say. People who are confident get much further in life than timid people. It might not be fair, but it’s the truth. I give projects to the confident people who I know can execute those projects.
When I hand projects off to a timid person who is incapable of making decisions, then I have to be concerned about it being half done, or slapped together at the last moment. Confidence wins people over: make eye contact.
Eye Contact: Truth
This may not be the case for everyone, but looking me in the eye is an indicator that you’re telling me the truth. This is a common behavioral detection technique used by security firms, and has probably been used for thousands of years.
I do feel bad for the minority who just lack the confidence to make eye contact, but I have a harder time believing someone when it sounds like they are thinking on their feet, and looking all around the room.
Eye Contact: Business Applications
This is important in business too. My opinions about eye contact stem directly from business dealings and interacting with business people daily. Eye contact, although primal, is a real instinct built into us. It is a fundamental piece of verbal communication, and its importance should not be diminished. Even babies make eye contact.
I don’t know if it is because of technology’s degradation of social skills that has created this problem, but making eye contact is a simple way to make an impact with little effort, even if it seems uncomfortable.
Eye Contact: Out-dated silliness
If you are of the crowd that thinks eye contact and hand shakes are out dated and ineffective ways of getting to know people, then you need to meet more people. Make eye contact, it’s simple, and an effective tool for communication. What do you have to lose by making eye contact?