According to Etiquette Tips analytics, we had quite a few visitors who were searching for information about eye contact. So far we only mentioned the importance of gaze when covering magic of first impression. We didn’t go into specifics that time. Let’s fix this and see what are easy to follow advices on how to maintain a ‘good’ eye contact.
Eye Contact – Where to look?
There are several guides on Youtube that deal with eye contact basics. I think Laura Benyik, body language expert from Finland, provides the most detailed yet simple tutorial. Benyik offers a classification that consists of 3 different eye contact techniques: social gaze, business gaze and intimate gaze.
When looking at a person your gaze should never go beyond his nose. Keep your eyes on the imaginary triangle on the forehead of the person in front of you. From time to time you can switch and look at the second triangle, the one that eyes and nose form (see Eye Contact – Business Gaze # 2 image).
This type of look creates formal atmosphere. If you feel slightly insecure and suspect people don’t take you seriously, try to practice the business gaze more often and you will soon notice a dramatic positive change in their attitude.
Business gaze doesn’t come naturally. That is why it’s very important to practice this type of eye contact in more relaxed social situation. Don’t go straight to a professional meeting and use it for the first time. You should try the business gaze in an ordinary situation, for example when seeing friends, so when you attend a big-league meeting you behavior and your gaze are smooth and natural.
Moreover, if you focus on keeping the eyes up the nose intensively you might not be able to focus on anything else, for example on the actual conversation. You may simply forget what you wanted to say. Make sure you practice the business gaze well before you start using it in actual real world of business and your work life.
We use social gaze every time we ‘draw’ the eyes + the mouth triangle. This one is the most common and the most widespread type of eye contacts. Normally social gaze creates slightly informal vibe. When you look at person’s lips you inevitably communicate that you are interested in talking to him and are eager to find out what does he want to say.
This type of look might expose that you are more emotionally involved in the person, rather than in the dialogue. Use it when you want to make new friends, meet new people or while talking with family members. The social gaze is easier to adopt – we do it every day, without thinking about it.
Intimate gaze extends the triangle and goes from eyes – to mouth – to entire body. We naturally use this eye contact type when we like what we see (for example we admire a person’s outfit) or on the contrary, we disapprove what we see. That one often happens when a woman looks at another woman and subconsciously evaluates her. You can easily recognize such critical gaze. The woman would be looking from head to toes at you and then briefly down her nose.
Be careful with the intimate gaze, as this look comes to us very naturally. If you don’t plan to disclose your intense interest in someone, try to control the eye movements and stick to social or business gaze.
Jump to Simple Guide to Good Eye Contact Part 2 page and find out HOW to keep good eye contact.
Alona is the co-founder of Etiquette Tips – an online magazine that features articles on business etiquette, communication, dress code, table manners, international code of behaviour, gift giving, events & celebrations and more.
You can find her on Google + and Twitter