More than 50% of communication is based on non-verbal cues such as eye contact. The power of eye contact including our exposure to and sensitivity to eye contact begins when we are infants. Infants prefer to look at faces that gaze directly back at them. Additionally, the brain activity of four-month olds shows increased brain activity from faces that gaze directly at them, instead of faces that look away from them. Children clearly understand the importance and power of eye contact communication: we as adults need to learn the same.
The Power of Eye Contact
According to The Art of Charm, “eye contact is one of the easiest and most powerful ways to make a person feel recognized, understood, and validated.” Many people may not consider how good or bad their eye contact really is, but understanding the power of eye contact can make a huge impact on your communication skills. Here are some of the powerful benefits that eye contact can have on your communication.
Benefits of Eye Contact
- Your words are more memorable: A joint study conducted by the University of Stirling and the University of Wolverhampton indicated that people remember more of what you say if you maintained good eye contact throughout a conversation. The study analyzed participants in a video call and found that making eye contact just 30% of the time led to increased retention of what was discussed on the call. Making eye contact 30% of the time is equal to about twenty seconds of every minute.
- You are more honest: When confronted with eye contact, people tend to be more honest. A study done at Tufts University had participants find a dime in a phone booth. Strangers would approach the participants claiming the dime to be theirs. The study concluded that when the strangers made direct eye contact with participants, the participants were more likely to give the dime to the stranger.
- You build self-awareness: Researchers at the University of Paris found that people become more focused on themselves and aware of their behavior when others are making eye contact with them. This self-consciousness that comes from eye contact can be a positive influence on how you interact with others in social situations.
- Attraction is created and deepened: Researchers at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland found hard evidence to prove that a smile coupled with eye contact creates attraction. Think about the power of eye contact when dating, interviewing for a new job, or even when looking to make new friends.
Now that you understand the science behind the power of eye contact, it’s time to incorporate eye contact into your every conversation. We have summarized tips from this post on how to improve your eye contact skills.
How to Improve Your Eye Contact
- In a group: Speaking with a group of people can be intimidating and confusing when trying to figure out whom you should make eye contact with. Try focusing on a different member of the group with each sentence. Once you get into a rhythm of engaging with everyone, you will naturally look at everyone while you speak.
- With an individual: Maintaining eye contact with one other person can feel awkward. Try focusing on the person you are speaking with for 5 seconds, then look to the side or up. Avoid looking down as this can indicate you are ending the conversation.
- When listening: It can be off-putting for a speaker if you stare at them too hard. Try the “triangle” technique instead. Look at one eye for 5 seconds, then the next eye for 5 seconds. End the triangle by focusing on the speakers’ mouth for 5 seconds. Keep rotating this way as you nod.
- Arguing: When you are in a heated debate or arguing with someone, hold your gaze to show strength. Looking away from your conversation partner is a sign of weakness. Hold your ground by holding your gaze.
- Attracting someone: Listen with your eyes and ears. When someone you are attracted to is speaking to you, use their whole face as a focal point. Look at their eyes and smile when appropriate. If you feel you are staring into their eyes too much, see tip number three.
- Loving someone: This is a great exercise to do with your partner. Without speaking, simply look into each other’s eyes. This creates a strong bond as you see your partner’s pupils dilate and they see yours do the same.
Making eye contact is very powerful when communicating with and listening to people. It creates strong connections, builds trust and honesty, and can enrich relationships you have with others. If you are looking for other healthy lifestyle tips check out this post on 6 Podcasts to Inspire Personal Growth.