Eye contact

Our eyes may indeed be windows to our soul, but with our necks craned downward and our eyes focused on tiny handheld screens, who can tell? We hardly make an effort to look at the person we’re talking to any more. Younger people, in general, find it challenging to maintain eye contact with adults. Video conferencing complicates things further. When was the last time you consciously looked into someone’s eyes and had a meaningful conversation?

When nearly every personal and business interaction uses a screen as an intermediary, it’s difficult to develop and maintain meaningful relationships with employees, customers and partners. But such relationships are the cornerstone of building a long-term business. So put down that smartphone, walk away from the computer, and think about these five things:

1. Speak with your eyes

We communicate so much with a simple look. Are you genuinely interested and receptive to ideas, or do your eyes dart away while someone is talking? A challenging stare can thwart collaboration before a word is spoken. Even if your eyes are relaxed and attentive, your eyebrows may convey concern, surprise and other emotions. Relax your face when you’re meeting with someone and use your eyes to meet theirs for five seconds at a time, while making note of their overall body language.

2. Listen to their eyes

Without looking directly into someone’s eyes, you’ll miss millions of visual clues as to what’s going on inside their head. Can you see fear? A spark of excitement? A glazed look of boredom? Are the other person’s arms crossed or relaxed at their side? You can’t read body language if your eyes are looking past them, down at papers or at your phone. Carefully pay attention to the other person’s eyes, and you’ll learn more than you ever could from lifeless words on a screen.

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