It’s All in the Eyes–Always Saying Something (P4–cont’d)

April 13, 2011 by  
Filed under Personal N*Powerment

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In my last post, I wrote about establishing and maintaining eye contact. I ended with a few questions that I’ve been asked regarding the appropriateness of eye contact, such as “How do I establish eye contact without being intimidating? Is it possible to maintain too much eye contact with someone? Are there any differences in maintaining eye contact with men and with women?

Here are the guidelines:

Nobody feels comfortable being stared at. There is a difference between maintaining eye contact and being a psycho! You can tell when it’s too much. The goal is not to stare someone directly in the eyes the entire time you are speaking with them. It’s to start out with a direct look into his/her eyes. Think of it as an “eye-shake” and just as I advise with a handshake, it should be done with a smile and held for 2-3 seconds. After that, you can look in the general direction of a person’s face and still be perceived as maintaining eye contact that is not intimidating, but be sure to glance back directly into the person’s eyes every few moments. Just as saying, “uh huh”, or “mmm” and the other sound cues we give to let others know we are listening, giving intermittent eye contact does the same thing. I was taught to look at a person’s forehead or nose, but I don’t like that suggestion because when someone does it to me I think they are looking at my forehead or my nose and instead of concentrating on what I’m saying, I’m wondering if something is in my nose or one my nose, wrong with my forehead or  wrong with my hair or whatever else I think they are really looking at instead of looking at “me.”  So my best advice is to aim for the eyes, but look away and back (just remember not to look at your watch during the time you look away).

As for differences between eye contact with men and women—as a rule, it’s safer to establish and maintain eye contact with males that you know. Doing so with those you don’t is an invitation to establish further connection (remember, looking directly into someone’s eyes establishes a non-verbal connection). So unless that is your intention, then keep the eye contact to a minimum with strange men on the street. Look them directly in the face though. Think in terms of taking a mental snapshot. If you were asked to give a composite sketch of the guy’s face could you do it? If you look at him the way I’m suggesting, you should be able to. However, if you are in a professional or academic situation where you are speaking with men and sharing information, giving directions, or explaining ideas, it is critical to establish and maintain the same level of eye contact that you would with other females. Many women fail to do this and diminish or negate their leadership potential and power by neglecting to look males directly in the eye in these situations.

What are you saying with your eye contact?

Are you saying, “I have no idea what I’m talking so you should tune me out right now if you haven’t already” or “I don’t have time to listen to you right now because I have other things to do”?

You want to say, “I’m interested and engaged in what you are saying and I am truly listening” or “listen to me because what I’m saying is engaging and interesting.” You want to say, “I may not be lying to you right now, but I am so confident in what I’m saying that I could be lying and you wouldn’t even know it=)

That’ s being remarkable!

See you on Friday’s Fitness Audiocast!

If you have a question about a specific topic that you’d like me to answer here on the blog about any aspect of personal or professional development or a fitness question that I can answer on the audiocast, please feel free to send it to me as a reply on my contact page, directly to my email address or post it on the NPowered Women facebook page.

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