Making very little eye contact can convey either shyness and submissiveness or that you have something to hide; it could also suggest you feel superior or are not interested. You can use your eyes to express interest in other people or in your surroundings. Keeping eye contact makes you appear more confident in almost any situation. This is particularly true in job interviews where you want to appear interested, confident and calm.
On the other hand if you stare and have too much eye contact it can seem confrontational or intimidating; in the natural process of talking to someone we do flick our eyes away when we are processing our thoughts.
When you are in a group of people, you should make sure you look at each person for a few seconds to make everyone feel included and imply respect for everybody in the group. If you are not comfortable with looking into people’s eyes then you can look into the triangular area that ranges from the left eyebrow across to the outright eyebrow and down to the nose and up to the left eyebrow again – when you look into this triangular area other people cannot tell if you are looking into their eyes or not, so it looks as if you are keeping eye contact.
If, when you walk into a room, you look around, you will give out the impression of somebody who cares about where they are – and people will be more likely to approach you. If you keep your eyes averted (as is common if you are nervous) then you will look as if you would rather be somewhere else and appear less approachable and not confident.
When you keep eye contact you will be able to ‘read’ other people’s body language and facial expressions. You may realize that you need to change what you are saying if they look as if they do not agree, or that you need to explain more if they have a quizzical expression on their face. If you are not looking at them you will not pick up any signals.
Eye movement will tell you whether they are thinking about the future or the past. When people look to the right, they are creating and thinking about the future and when they
look to the left they are remembering and thinking about the past. The eye movement may not be exaggerated – it could be minute – but if you look carefully you will begin to recognize it. By looking at people’s eyes you can tell if they are telling lies or not, because if you ask them a factual question and they look to their right they are about to make something up or exaggerate. If they look to their left they are going to tell you the truth as they are accessing their past. However, you should note there is a small group of left-handed people where the eye movements are reversed.
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Sue France / Photo on Unsplash