Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You…
If you were born prior to the early 60’s and had any interest in music, you most likely remember the great Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons song “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You”. For those of you too young to know or too old to remember, the first 2 lines are
“You're just too good to be true
I can't take my eyes off you”
We are also familiar with the saying “The eyes are the window to the soul”. The eyes reveal so much about what we’re thinking and depending on the eye contact or lack thereof, will produce wide and varied results in the social interactions.
For a television show, Body Language experts, Allan and Barbara Pease conducted an experiment using a dating agency. A selected number of men were told that their next date was well matched to them and that they should expect a successful date. However each man was told that his date had suffered an injury to one eye as a child and that she was very sensitive about it because the eye didn’t track properly. They were told we weren’t sure which eye it was but if they looked closely enough they would be able to pick it. Each woman was told the same story about her date and that if she too looked closely she would be able to spot the slow eye. On their dates the couples spent the evening gazing into each other’s eyes searching in vain for the “problem eye”
The outcome was that each couple reported high levels of intimacy and romance on their dates and the likelihood of the couple meeting again for a second date was 200% higher than the agency average!
As a speaker, it’s important to maintain good eye contact with your audience. This builds credibility and trust with our audience. The inability to make and maintain good eye contact with an audience indicates nerves, lack of confidence, lack of knowledge of the particular subject, withholding information or downright lying. In small groups it’s easy to make eye contact will all individuals. A different technique is required in larger groups. Standing back further and selecting points or individuals to look at gives the appearance your making eye contact with a larger group in that area.
We have all heard “Don’t trust them if they can’t look you in the eye” be wary, skilled, regular liars will have good eye contact. You’ll need to look for other signs to confirm your belief they are lying such as voice change and pupil dilation. Extended blinking can also be an indication of lying as well.
I’m sure we all have been at an event and met someone for the first time and you’re hoping you never meet them again and can’t wait to get away! Darting eyes from side to side, to the uninformed can look as if a person is scoping the activity of the room. However, it is in fact the brain searching for escape routes revealing a person’s insecurity about the situation. Most people are aware that looking away indicates a lack of interest in the other person and identifies our desire to run, we engage in more eye contact with the boring individual and to feign interest use a tight lipped smile. This is the same behaviour engaged by liars to appear convincing.
Where do you look? Building rapport.
Michael Argyle, a pioneer of social psychology and non-verbal communication found that when person A like person B, he will look at him a lot. This causes B to think A likes him so B will like A in return. In other words, in most cultures, to build a good rapport with another person, your gaze should meet theirs 60 to 70% of the time. This will also cause them to begin to like you. It’s not surprising, then that the nervous timid person who meets our gaze less than 30% of the time is rarely trusted. This is also why wearing dark tinted glasses in negotiations should be avoided as they make others feel your either staring at them or avoiding eye contact.
As I mentioned in last week’s blog, body language can be culturally determined, so please, don’t assume that a particular gestures meaning in the western culture is the same in others!
Until next time…keep your eyes open!
My name is Con and I am The Con Versationalist
Bye for now.
Con is an accomplished and articulate speaker and presenter with over 25 years of high level sales experience.