Numerous studies conducted over the years have confirmed that eye contact plays an important role in both verbal and non-verbal communication. A person can communicate with their eyes and never say a word.
Susan Young, in her book “The Art of Body Language: 8 Ways to Optimize Non-Verbal Communication for Positive Impact,” writes: “One simple glance can convey to your recipient that you are … present, interested, paying attention, being respectful, listening, confident, engaged, caring, dedicated, appreciative, emphatic, focused, supportive, trustworthy, acknowledging, excited. This list barely scratches the surface; however, it opens the conversation about how vital your eye contact is for making positive first impressions.”
Unfortunately, eye contact has become somewhat of a lost skill. Many people seem to be constantly looking down at their smart phone, even though individuals are right in front of them. You might need to disconnect to connect with people.
Making eye contact is a skill that can be learned. It might take a little practice but can have a significant impact on your work and personal life.
The first step is to just relax and smile. A smile generally puts others at ease. Everything seems much easier with a smile.
Next, practice eye contact with people you trust, such as family and friends, even pets. You want to practice with people you can form a connection. Use a mirror or record yourself on your smart phone. Practicing will help you overcome nervousness and gain confidence.
No one said this is easy, so practice regularly to increase your comfort level. Over time eye contact should become automatic, but you must challenge yourself to improve and push the boundaries to continue to grow.