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Eye Contact

Eye contact can indicate how interested a person is in the communication taking place. It could also suggest trust and truthfulness. Often, then people are being untruthful, they tend to look away and resist eye contact

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Furthermore, eye contact portrays someone’s involvement and attention. Attention is a function of eye contact that can be both negatively and positively affect by a person’s gaze. The latter can show confidence, anger, fear,… 

  • A person’s direction of gaze is important. To engage in a productive communicative session, attention must given.
  •  Looking away often demonstrate a lack of involvement in the conversation. 
  • Autism is characterized by impaired social interaction and communication. A lack of eye contact is not a cause of this disease, but can often be a sign of its presence.
  •  This lack of eye contact provides information on how the individual’s lack of attention can lead to a lack of communication skills. 
  • People suffering from social anxiety (or social phobia) also resist eye contact, although this does not necessarily mean that there is a lack of attention.

Important aspects of gaze:

  • Looking while talking: This establishes a rapport with the person listening.
  • Looking while listening: This reciprocates the rapport established. This aspect is often used during emotional connections such as flirting.
  • Frequency of glance: This indicated involvement and how invested one is to the conversation.
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  • Patterns of fixation: This provides evidence as to where the attention lies.
  • Pupil Dilation: This could often provide proof of interest and boredom.

How Maintaining Eye Contact Can and Will Benefit You:

  • Studies have shown that maintaining eye contact can effectively reduce tension in a conversation, show an image of assertion, and conveys respect. Though, by the same means, too much eye contact can portray aggression, hostility, and even anger. The “death stare” can infuriate someone without you having to mutter a single word.
  • Take some time to commit to teaching yourself to use eye contact naturally. When you’re talking to someone quickly glance at their eyes and notice their level of committment to the conversation.
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  • Over time maintaining eye contact will become natural and you will notice a difference in your conversations.

10 reasons why presenters should look at people, one at a time, when addressing an audience of any size. 

DO’S

  1. Focusing your eyes helps you concentrate. When your eyes wander, they take in random, extraneous images that are sent to your brain, slowing it down.
  2. When you fail to make eye contact with your listeners, you look less authoritative, less believable, and less confident.
  3. When you don’t look people in the eye, they are less likely to look at you. And when they stop looking at you, they start thinking about something other than what you’re saying, and when that happens, they stop listening.
  4. When you look someone in the eye, he or she is more likely to look at you, more likely to listen to you, and more likely to buy you and your message.
  5. When you look a person in the eye, you communicate confidence and belief in your point of view. One of the most powerful means of communicating confidence and conviction is sustained, focused eye contact.
  6. Sustained, focused eye contact makes you feel more confident and act more assertively. It may feel weird at first, but when you practice, it becomes a habit that gives you power.
  7. When your listeners see your eyes scanning their faces, they feel invited to engage with you. They feel encouraged to signal to you how they feel about what you’re saying–with nods, frowns, or skeptical raisings of their eyebrows.
  8. As a result, your listeners are transformed from passive receivers to active participants. Your monologue takes the form of a dialogue, albeit one in which you speak words while they speak with gestures and facial expressions. Your speech or presentation is suddenly a conversation.
  9. However, to have a successful dialogue with your audience, you must respond to what your listeners are signaling. So, for instance, when you see skepticism, you might say, “I know it seems hard to believe, but I promise you, the investment makes sense. The data bears it out. “
  10. Finally, when you look someone in the eye for three to five seconds, you will naturally slow down your speech, which will make you sound more presidential. In fact, you will find that you are able to pause, which is one practice that has helped President Obama become a powerful and effective orator.
  • Looking into the eyes of others may make you feel as if you are staring at them, but you are not doing any such thing. You are simultaneously being assertive and empathetic, because you are asserting your opinion and then watching their faces to understand their response.

With practice, you will master this important skill and turn it into a behavior that will serve you well in all areas of your life.

  • The eyes can indicate interest, attention, and involvement with audience members, while failure to make eye contact can be interpreted as disinterest.
  • Gaze includes looking while talking and listening. The length of a gaze, the frequency of glances, patterns of fixation, pupil dilation, and blink rate are all important cues in nonverbal communication. Unless looking at others is a cultural no-no, lookers gain more credibility than non-lookers.
  • Lack of eye contact is usually perceived to be rude or inattentive in Western cultures. But different cultures have different rules for eye contact. Certain Asian cultures can perceive direct eye contact as a way to signal competitiveness, which in many situations may prove to be inappropriate. Others lower their eyes to signal respect; eye contact is avoided in Nigeria, and between men and women of Islam. However, in Western cultures, lowered eyes and avoiding eye contact could be misinterpreted as lacking self-confidence.

Tips for the Speaker

  • Make eye contact with your audience members, and make sure not to stare at your notes the whole time.
  • If you have a large audience, make sure to alternate talking to the audience members to the right, left, and in front of you.
  • When you begin your speech do not look at your notes, look at your audience! You know your topic and who you are so introduce yourself and your topic as you would introduce yourself when you meet a new person.
  • Practice looking at the audience while rehearsing.
  • Avoid skimming over faces in your audience.
  • Masking emotions. There are times when you’re not trying to disguise a lie outright, but simply wish to conceal your true feelings from others, such as when you do not think your reaction to something will be received favourably by them. Anger, fear, and surprise are the emotions that register most through our eyes, and are hardest to hide. And they’re also the emotions we most often want to keep from others.
  • Insecurity. Finally, one of the most common reasons that people avoid eye contact is from simple insecurity. Eye contact invites more interaction, and you might not want people to take a closer look at you because of how you feel about yourself.
  • People with higher-status make more eye contact when they’re speaking to others, while those who feel they are of lower-status will make less eye contact and be the first to avert their gaze. When a guy can’t look anyone in the eye when he’s speaking to them, it’s often because he doesn’t feel like he comes up to anyone’s level; he doesn’t believe he can hold his own with other people.
  • This lack of confidence can be rooted in insecurity over one’s physical appearance, or the state of one’s mind. A study was done where college students were shown faces which looked at the participants with different kinds of gazes—averted or direct. The students then ranked the faces on whether they seemed approachable or avoidable. Then a survey was given to the participants that evaluated their mental health. The students who ranked the faces that had a direct gaze as approachable were found to be more emotionally stable than those who found the direct gaze faces avoidable. Another study specifically showed that people who suffer from depression—which can do a number on a person’s self-confidence–are less likely to make eye contact with people.

People will also avoid eye contact when saying a sarcastic, as opposed to a sincere, comment, as sarcasm is often used by those who are too insecure to show aggression or state their opinion directly.

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