Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook offer new ways to socialize that are simple, fast and faceless. Interaction is immediate, and hitting the “send” button equals contact. As we increase our online connections, it is more important than ever to maximize the decreasing number of face-to-face encounters we have. The keys to successful in-person meetings are to validate, connect and be remembered.
Like the dying art of a hand-written note, Internet socialization affects our basic human interactions. It is true that the strength of a handshake influences a first impression. What about the crucial component of eye contact? There is a moment in every introduction when the handshake and the eye contact happen between the parties. The handshake occurs, and then ends; however, eye contact must continue. This is your opportunity to take the basic “How do you do?” and create a memorable “I to Eye connection.”
Eye Contact Is Personal
The proper application of eye contact is personal; and yet, the goal to connect is universal. Goldilocks tested each bear’s porridge, discovering, “…this one is too hot, this one is too cold, this one is just right.” In real life, determining the correct amount of eye contact and technique requires awareness, conscious effort, and practice to foster a memorable connection.
While this may seem obvious, the lack of eye contact is more predominant as of late. Look back on your last in-person meeting. What do you remember about the other person? How did they respond to you? Did you leave with a better sense of who they are, and share a bit of yourself, too? If you are struggling with these questions, perhaps it is time to brush up on your eye contact technique.
Think of learning proper eye contact as an exercise akin to breathing. We all do it everyday, but not every breath utilizes the oxygen’s benefits. For the best results, one makes a conscious choice to combine proper posture, deep inhalation, and purposeful exhalation. After much practice, the technique becomes an unconscious habit.
Please note that crazy eyes need not apply! Do not turn on the “stalker” stare. Do look into the other person’s eyes and let them look into yours. Be open, confident, and comfortable. Speak directly to someone when they are looking at you. Look back at them, even in quiet moments.
Similarly, reserve the “once over” for the menu. Resist the urge to do an up and down analysis. Remember, the recipient can see you! Unless there is a valid reason to scan their body, the message sent is often one of envy, judgment, or lechery. Stay “head and shoulders” above the rest.
Distractions interrupt the connection. Do not check your Blackberry, accept a cell phone call, or return a text unless it is pertinent to the meeting. Emergencies aside, using these wireless devices drains the flow of energy between the parties. It is the modern day equivalent of repeatedly checking your watch during a first date – quite likely to be construed as inattentive, and worst of all, rude.
In a perpetually distracted society, simply paying undivided attention to another person speaks volumes about your level of interest in them. It is as effortless as looking directly at them and listening. Whether the meeting lasts for minutes or hours, doing these things helps expand its potential for a positive experience.
You can exchange looks with someone, but to be remembered, you must become a skilled connector. Validate the other person by giving them your full attention. Take the time to see them and let them see you. You will instantly see the benefits of meaningful eye contact by applying the I to eye connection. The eyes are the conduit, and like the lungs, efficient use produces optimal results.
Question: Have you noticed that the technological distractions and gadgets of the 21st century are interfering with your ability to connect with others with confidence, grace and style? What do you think of Luci's approaches for maximizing “I To Eye” connections?