It seems safe to say that we do a good percentage of our communication through a screen. Even as we text a loved one, our eyes are fixed on a digital display that shows no emotion. We can order coffee or lunch through an app and just grab and go without the inconvenience of human interaction. There are days when I find this preferable due to time constraints or a dark mood that I’d rather not share.
However, I’ve learned that you can change a person’s day for the better by making eye contact. At a checkout counter the staff may be slightly startled when you make the extra effort to acknowledge them visually and give a sincere thank you. Put down your phone the next time your colleague, friend, or family member speaks to you and catch their eye. In doing so, you have established that they not only exist but that they are important to you. (Turn it into a game… see how long you can keep that eye contact without letting the Cyclops distract you.)
Small children believe they become invisible simply by closing their eyes. Imagine how they feel when your attention is diverted to a screen while they try to tell you about something wonderful or when you’re having a meal together.
Eye contact means that you value the other person, their efforts, and the story they need to share. Eye contact means they have your full attention and that you are fully present, even if it is for a fleeting “Thank You!”
Every speaker knows that you need to connect with your audience by making eye contact. If you get the jitters just thinking about speaking, this will actually help you be more comfortable. The visual connection makes the speech more of a conversation with the individuals in your audience.
Make an effort to make eye contact with people and see what happens. Try it for the next few days. You’ll likely find that the people you encounter will think you are a masterful communicator because you took the time to make a connection.
By Contributing Author: Jane Maulucci, The Reactive Voice and Trained by Jane