Everything You Never Knew About Eye Contact
Eye contact plays a major role in human interaction, love, lust, business transactions, and arguments. It is said that the optimal amount of direct eye contact is 30-60% of a conversation. Be careful though, too much can be read as aggressive or domineering and too little can be read as insincere or insecure. Understanding how eye contact is interpreted by others allows us to be more mindful of how we use it and the impression that may result.
The power of eye contact.
Eye contact affects much more than the tone of a conversation, it also controls the tempo and helps to synchronize the participants. People naturally look at their conversational partner when certain words are said to unconsciously deduce when it’s their turn to speak.
It also helps people remember what you’ve said. In a study by University of Wolverhampton and University of Stirling, it was found that recall increased on a video call when eye contact was held for at least 30% of the time. That’s a mere 20 seconds per minute, making it an easy thing to achieve.
If you’ve ever seen a TED Talk, you may have noticed that the speaker always paces slowly back and forth and maintains eye contact with audience members. That’s because the combination of movement and eye contact has been proven to keep people engaged and makes the message more memorable. In a study by researchers from Rutgers University and Radboud University, it was found that the combination of eye contact and a sudden movement such as hand movement or repositioning one’s head made the speaker more apparent and memorable.
The truth is in their eyes.
Eye contact can also indicate truthfulness. Looking to the left can indicate that a person is trying to recall something, while looking to the right indicates creativity, which could include lying. However, those directions are reversed if someone is left-handed.
Think back to when you were a child. If you were ever caught in a lie by a parent, did they look you straight in the eye when confronting you? Most likely they did, and that is a great tactic. Researchers at Tufts University have found that people are more likely to tell the truth when their conversation partner maintains steady eye contact. This has many applications in the real world such as, in-person salary negotiations, dealing with salespeople, or simply asking someone for their honest opinion. Just maintain eye contact and it’s more likely that they’ll be forthcoming.
The messages our eyes send.
Being cognizant of eye contact can have other positive effects as well. Researchers from the University of Paris found that eye contact makes people more aware of their body, feelings, and thoughts. This heightened level of consciousness offers a good opportunity to evaluate your own body language, eye contact, and tone and adjust as needed to convey the message you’d like.
Eye contact also provides us with an opportunity to read their interest level of our audience. Pupils dilate (get wider) when we’re interested in something and they contract when we are bored.
Blinking is another way to gauge your audience. Assuming that the person doesn’t have eye irritation, rapid blinking, more than 15-20 times per minute, can indicate attraction and can be a sign of flirting.
Want to know more? To learn more about eye contact and attraction, read our article Proof of Love….It’s in the eyes.