What if I told you that I could make you more creditable, powerful, trustworthy, engaging, authentic, and confident with one pill? The pill is free, has no side effects, immediately available, and will last for a lifetime…would you take it?
This pill I am talking about is eye contact. Stick with me for a minute.
Think of the last time you were in a conversation with someone and they looked down at their phone mid-conversation. I would venture to say you can immediately think of a conversation within the past week. I bet your first thought wasn’t “ Wow, this person is really into my conversation and thinks what I am saying is important.”
In our technology driven, phone-loving world we have shifted our eye contact from people to screens. We are so connected/distracted with technology that we have lost sight of the importance for human interaction. We live in a world where conference call, emails, webinars, and text messaging are the main forms of communication opposed to in-person communication. The art of in-person communication is falling by the wayside.
This article is NOT about how to be a better public speaker rather it is to provide you one simple technique you can easily incorporate into both your personal and professional communication.
E Y E C O N T A C T
ADVANTAGES OF EYE CONTACT
The eyes serve as the focal point in the body. Making eye contact with others can be hard for some to do because it can be very revealing. Eye contact shows how secure and confident you feel about yourself and the message you are sending. The more prepared and comfortable you are usually dictates the amount of eye contact one makes. Eye contact is equally important when speaking and listening. One study at UCLA found that 93% of communication effectiveness has NOTHING to do with words!
The Power of Eye Contact
- Builds rapport and trust with people
- Creates an authentic connection
- Gives both receiver and sender immediate feedback
- Keeps the receiver engaged and feeling important
- Helps the sender concentrate, slow down message delivery, feel more confident, and remove filler words such as “like” and “umm”
HOW MUCH EYE CONTACT?
Let’s be clear, I am not talking about staring at everyone you meet, giving people that creepy feeling. So what is the right amount of eye contact? Toastmasters suggest between 4-5 seconds, which is about the amount of time it takes to communication one thought. Everyone is different, if you’re ever unsure about what the “right” amount of eye contact is, then observe how much eye contact the other person is giving you and match that.
INCORPORATING MORE EYE CONTACT
One-on-One and Small Group Setting
- PUT YOUR PHONE AWAY!
- Look at one person at a time, one thought at a time.
- Break eye contact every 5 seconds or so, look up or to the side as if you are remembering something
- Do not talk to objects (AKA PowerPoint) talk to people
- Trying to talk to everyone is actually talking to no one because we make authentic connects when we lock eyes with the person speaking.
- Focus on a different member of the group with every new sentence.
- Connect with as many people as possible. In a large crowd, it is impractical to make eye contact with everyone so divide the audience into sections and focus on one person in each section.
- When you are in public, practice looking at the store clerk, baristas, gas attendant, etc. You will notice we are so conditioned to not look at people that some people will not even look up from what they are doing.
- At dinnertime, practice looking into one-another's eyes.
Fun Facts About Eye Contact
- Doctors look more at patients when talking about emotional rather than physical symptoms or conditions.
- People look at each other about 75% of the time when talking but only 40% of the time when listening.
- Powerful people are looked at more (partly because they tend to look more and speak less).
- Females tend to make more eye contact when speaking opposed to males.
We challenge you at Beauty Refined MD, to make eye contact a priority. Let us know how it works for you and what you notice!
1. Psychology Today, The Secrets of Eye Contact Revealed, Adrian Furnham, Ph.D
3. “The Eyes Have It.” Toastmasters. December 2013. www.toastmasters.org
By Elizabeth Cumby, M.B.A. - Entrepreneur and Finance Expert