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Eye Contact

“handwritten letters, direct eye contact, stolen smiles and the art of listening to your heart was the original social media…”

Nitya Prakash

Eye Contact

Eye contact permeates all aspects of our lives.

Romantic poets write of our windows to the soul, providing glimpses into the deepest parts of ourselves and revealing truths we’re unable to hide.  We use eye contact to signal aggression, convey annoyance, and maintain and assert our dominance over would-be rivals.  We get caught in the eyes of a friend or mentor during intense and engaging conversations or lessons.

It seems eye contact is intrinsic to the very foundations of human communication and vital to establishing our status within society.  Indeed, there is a reason why “maintain eye contact” is often the first suggestion in many self-help, business, and relationship books.

There is something inherently primal about eye contact, a vestige of our evolutionary upbringing back to a time before language where a look could mean the difference between friend or foe, a mate or aggressor.

But holding eye contact is not so easy.  Try to hold your gaze with the next person you see, and you’ll quickly realize just how difficult it can be to maintain your composure.

Eye Contact in Business

Whether your goal is to elicit trust, form stronger business relations, intimidate an opponent, or dominate during negotiations, eye contact is one of your most valuable tools.

Two significant areas where eye contact is especially important are:

Forming an Alliance – When seeking to form alliances and friendships within the office, studies have shown that eye contact can encourage a more consolidated agreement on mutually agreed subjects.  Several studies have also confirmed that eye contact has the dual ability to increase others’ retention of what you are saying and causes people to notice and remember you more.

Resistance – If someone is attempting to convince you of something or sell you something to which you aren’t at all interested, maintaining eye contact will make you more resistant to persuasion.

The Bible

Eyes and sight are often used figuratively to indicate understanding or ignorance.

When we understand a point that a teacher makes, we say, “Oh, I see now.” When we do not plan ahead, we are said to be “short-sighted,” Conversely, when we do plan strategically, we are “far-sighted.” When we ignore an action, we “turn a blind eye” toward it, and when we disapprove of an action, we “take a dim view of” it.  Finally, when we supervise a project, we take “oversight” of it.

In the Bible, John 9 tells of a blind man who Jesus returned the gift of sight.

The crime Jesus committed was to perform this miracle on the Sabbath, which incensed the Pharisees.  They questioned the man who could now see about Jesus.  He responded

He replied, ‘Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know.  One thing I do know.  I was blind but now I see!’” (John 9:25)

In other places in the Bible, Jesus gave sight to the blind and frequently spoke of the blind, and part of his earthly ministry was to give sight to the blind (Matthew 11:5, Mark 10:46, Luke 4:18).  Of course, Jesus was concerned about people physically seeing, but he was more concerned about understanding that His ministry was to usher in the Kingdom of God.

Seeing is understanding.

Making eye contact is also understanding.

With eye contact, you hear what the person speaking is actually saying.  With eye contact, the person you are speaking with knows that what you are saying is how you feel.  Your compassion, appreciation, and comprehension are all conveyed through the simple act of looking at the person you are engaged with.

Eyes are indeed the gateway to the soul.  So let your soul work for you through making eye contact in all your business dealings.