Fascinating Facts About Eye Contact
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you know that eye contact is like Goldilocks and the three bears?
much eye contact is instinctively felt to be rude, hostile and
condescending; and in a business context, it may also be perceived as a
deliberate intent to dominate, intimidate, belittle, or make “the
other” feel at a disadvantage. (Which was how Goldilocks felt when the
bears caught her eating their porridge). So unless you have in mind
doing one of those things, it’s better to avoid too much eye contact.
little, on the other hand, can make you appear uneasy, unprepared, and
insincere. In its analysis of patients’ complaints, for example, one
large county hospital found, that 9-out-of-10 letters included mention
of poor doctor-patient eye contact; a failure which was generally
interpreted as “lack of caring.”
the right” amount of eye contact - the amount that produces a feeling
of mutual likability and trustworthiness - will vary with situations,
settings, personality types, gender and cultural differences. As a
general rule, though, direct eye contact ranging from 30% to 60% of the
time during a conversation - more when you are listening, less when you
are speaking - should make for a comfortable productive atmosphere.
did you know these other facts about eye contact?
• Eye contact produces a
powerful, subconscious sense of connection that extends even to drawn
or photographed eyes; a fact demonstrated by Researchers at Cornell
University who manipulated the gaze of the cartoon rabbit on several
Trix cereal boxes, asked a panel of adults to choose one, and
discovered, as they expected, that the box most frequently chosen was
the one on which the rabbit was looking directly at them, rather than
• We reduce eye contact when we
are talking about something shameful or embarrassing, when we are sad
or depressed, and when we are accessing internal thoughts or emotions.
• We increase eye contact when
dealing with people we like, admire, or who are in power. In more
intense or intimate conversations we naturally look at each another
more often and hold that gaze for longer periods of time. In fact, we
judge relationships by the amount of eye contact exchanged: the greater
the eye contact, the closer the relationship.
• Females look more at those
they are talking to than do males. That’s one of the reasons women
prefer a face-to-face conversation, while men are content to talk
• We avoid eye contact in
elevators, subways, crowded buses or trains - in elevators we face the
door, in the others we stare at our Smartphones - because it helps us
manage the insecurity of having our personal space invaded. Waiters may
avoid eye contact to send customers the signal, “I’m too busy to deal
with you right now.” Employees often keep their eyes down when the boss
appears with a tricky question or looks like he’s going to ask for
• The biggest body language myth
about liars is that they avoid eye contact. While some liars (most
often, children) find it difficult to lie while looking directly at
you, many liars, especial the most brazen, actually overcompensate to
"prove" that they are not lying by making too much eye contact and
holding it too long.
• If a speaker actively seeks
out eye contact when talking, he or she is judged to be more
believable, confident and competent.
contact is so powerful a force because it is connected with humans’
earliest survival patterns. Children who could attract and maintain eye
contact, and therefore increase attention, had the best chance of being
fed and cared for. Today, newborns instinctively lock eyes with their
caregivers. And the power of that infantile eye contact still retains
its impact on the adult mind. Whether it’s shifty-eyed guilt or
wide-eyed innocence, we automatically assign enormous credence to the
signals we give and get when we look into each other in the eyes.
About the Author
Kinsey Goman, Ph.D.is an international
Keynote speaker on collaborative leadership and the impact of
language in the workplace.
coach to executives to improve their leadership presence and
Leadership blogger for Forbes and author of "The Silent Language of
Leaders: How Body Language Can Help - or Hurt - How You Lead.”
Carol@CarolKinseyGoman.com Authors Google+
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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2014-08-28 09:11:42 in Personal Articles