One of the most fundamental ways we socialise is through the eyes. It has been suggested that the reason that humans have whites in their eyes (as for example apes do not) is that knowledge of where someone is looking is crucial to developing trust and therefore social relationships.
Connect with People Through Eye Contact
One of the most common ways that people fail to connect is through the eyes, yet, with the right skills it can make a huge difference to your ability to communicate, whatever your intentions. Have you ever been walking down a crowded street and the oncoming pedestrians are bearing down on you amidst tuts, sighs and the occasional elbow? Perhaps you’ve done the dance with someone where you both try to go in the same direction 2 or 3 times (anyone else get the urge to bow to your partner at that point?). Try to look in the direction that you are heading. Nine times out of ten, people will read your intentions and go the other way. That’s just the start: a small amount of self training allows you to think about the direction, timing and intensity of your eyes so that you can make your intentions clear way before opening your mouth. Conversely, you’re able to see intention in others – very powerful in personal and business situations.
Know where to look
When we say eye contact we might think we have to look directly into both of our opposite’s eyes to be effective. Not true or possible. Firstly, you can look in one eye for the same effect – it saves darting backwards and forwards between left and right. Secondly there are two spaces which are equally if not more effective. Imagine that between the eyes and towards the nose is an invisible triangle. This “social” space is perfect for looking at in friendly conversations as it shows you’re listening but doesn’t require you to literally meet their eyes. It’s completely indistinguishable from complete eye contact by the other person as well. If your purpose is a little more aggressive and you struggle with assertiveness, you can invert the triangle. Now it starts in the same place but goes upwards towards the eyebrows. This “power” space is an effective tactic, to be used sparingly, if you want to take control. It will probably be construed as aggressive so make sure you can back it up! Finally, you’ll want to think about timing. If you want to attract the attention of a potential date, then staring is a complete no-no. However, if you meet their eyes and turn away head-first, eyes to follow, after 1-2 seconds, you make your intentions clear without intimidating or making anyone uncomfortable. Check back a couple of times and, if they haven’t tried back, move on. Anything else could be construed as unwelcome, at least until you give them an opportunity to talk to you.
A Simple as That?
To begin with, yes. This is a foundational practice that will become a firm place to begin improving your social relations but it isn’t a complex one and the hardest part is maintaining awareness. Practice indicating your intentions through the eyes and look for the same in others and a whole range of benefits will make themselves known.