Saturday, April 13, 2024

Nonverbal communication: 1. Eye contact

ID-100113436 marin

Our body speaks for us. In fact only about 7% of our communication is based on words, about 38% on our tone and voice and the rest of 55% is gestures, glances, touches.

A prolonged eye contact increases the rhythm of our heartbeat. This can cause that “butterfly in the stomach” kind of feeling, like being in love. It is true what we’ve red in old stories, when the prince takes a deep look in the eyes of the princess, they really fall in love. Love at first sight is not a myth. Or, at least falling in love at (first) sight.

In a normal conversation the eye contact should consist of long looks, not of intense staring. It is usual to watch your dialog partner in the eyes, but not the whole time. You should disconnect the eye contact, if you have to watch their gestures or if you are upset or you have to think about something else.

A prolonged eye contact should be neither a “deer look in front of the headlights”, nor a day dreaming. Women can hold longer visual contact than men, and a more intimate conversation justifies a longer eye contact.

A lack of visual contact is often judged as rude or as lying. These are not the only reasons. The person could have a law self-esteem, or too powerful feelings which may not be expressed and a direct glance into their eyes could expose everything.

However, a manager should not stare in the eyes of  his collaborators, because this could be misinterpreted if it takes place over the glasses, with the chin pressing the breastbone and the eyes looking up (like the over the glasses kind of bad-ass teacher look). But, the higher the position that someone holds, the looser are the regulations for that someone.

Sometimes, if you don’t want the person whom you are communicating bad news to associate them with you, try to show the person something else that can be blamed for the bad news. For example the invoice, showing that money have to be spent or the handy announcing bad weather for the next day.

If you don’t agree with somebody, just roll your eyes, they will understand in an instant what you mean. Just don’t do it too often, you might seem a little priggish.

Eye contact is not nonverbal communication, it is just a part of it. If you want to find out more, check this website: soon will follow a new article about nonverbal communication.

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Sharon Sayler’s book: What your body says

Paul Ekman: Emotions revealed

More about nonverbal communication: 2. Voice

Image courtesy of marin /


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