It is a common saying that “the eyes are the window to the soul.” Regardless of this statement is literally true or not, the eyes are the way we as humans make connections with one another. Animals often use eye contact as a sign of threat or dominance, but with humans it can be used as a sign of mutual connectivity. While cultures can vary in the amount of eye contact that is used, using sustained eye contact can be a helpful tool for you to be seen as both intelligent and insightful. Although moderation is always a key in action, most of us could use some more sustained eye contact to impart both emotional availability and intelligence in general.
Men are said to be less emotionally available as women. While some of this certainly has to do with tone and body language, women are also much more comfortable making eye contact when they are listening to someone else speak. When we make eye contact, we let the speaker know that our attention is undivided and specific to them. Avoiding eye contact can make the speaker feel uncomfortable or self-conscious, which can in turn cause them to blame us for the incident. Men will often keep very little eye contact. You can envision a man looking out a window or off into the distance while sitting and listening to someone talk. The lack of eye contact makes the man seem less available to speak with in general compared to, say, a mother who sits and looks directly into her son or daughters eyes. We can create this same availability with anyone we talk to by simply allowing ourselves to look into the other person’s eyes for longer periods of time during the conversation. Remember that there are certainly exceptions, such as a confrontation. However, for the most part, in our daily lives, eye contact improves the ability for us to look available to speak with.
Being able to maintain deep and sincere eye contact will also impart unto another person that we are an intelligent thinker. A strong sign of intelligence is someone who can devote their attention to an issue, and eye contact shows the speaker that their topic is being focused on. Most people who are highly intelligent can continue eye contact while mulling over concepts or ideas. Being able to maintain your eye contact when someone is discussing a problem or idea will give them the impression that you are multitasking the intent listening and the critical-thinking process.
Not only does intelligence come across with strong eye contact, but also insightfulness is another strength it promotes. Insightfulness denotes deep thinking and critical thinking. When you are capable of maintaining positive eye contact with someone while you engage in his or her problem, you will naturally appear to have a more insightful position on the situation. This, again, is because you are showing a devoted focus to the issue at hand. The person thus knows that their issue is being truly considered and worked on.
Those who cannot maintain eye contact are much less likely to have their advice taken, for their sincerity is considered diminished. Consider any time someone does not take the time to make eye contact when you ask them a question. While the answer they give may be correct, you likely feel that they did not care much about making sure that they were answering your question well, and had no interest to how important the question was to you. In other words, you likely felt like they did not care whether or not they were actually helping you or not. Contrast that concept with the idea of someone who is willing to take the time to make eye contact with you and give you your answer personably. Surely, the second scenario you will feel as if you are being given an answer by somebody who cares about the outcome of your question. Making eye contact with children is often made to let the child know when something is a serious topic or not. Because of this, we develop to understand that eye contact can let us know when someone truly means something or not.
Likely, the most important thing that strong eye contact makes is that of a positive atmosphere. Not making eye contact or becoming distracted by externalities can make anyone look cold and uninterested. No matter how much you actually do care or want to help, not sustaining eye contact can make the other person feel as if you are uninterested in what they are saying. This is almost inevitably seen as disrespectful, rude, or simply callus. None of the aforementioned words can be called “positive” terms. Keeping a friendly level of eye contact when in person, or consistent and pointed eye contact in a group setting, imbues the speaker with the confidence that can help them promote their point better. Eye contact also says to the speaker that he or she is important. You are able to validate their position as the speaker and thus leader of the conversation or interaction. Confidence, importance, and validation are all supremely positive and important aspects to any speaker. It is up to you as the second part to help them feel these positives.
Remember that eye contact is important no matter what the reason, be it personal, social, or at a business level. On the personal level, it can show a person the connection you have with them and that they are important. At a social level, it validates the speaker and allows them to know that they control the floor and lead the current discussion. Moreover, at the business level it empowers the speaker with confidence and propels them to give you the best of what they are being asked to convey. By keeping the eye contact, you impart your sincerity, intelligence, insightfulness, and positivity that can make any interaction more productive and pleasurable than without.
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