“I am listening. I care about you. You are the most important person in the world right now.”
Why Eye Contact Is Important to Communication
How can we express all these things without saying anything at all? The simple act of making eye contact is an important part of communication with others. Nearly everyone has had the experience of speaking to someone who doesn’t make eye contact. In conversations where eye contact is lacking, people quickly lose interest and communication is lost.
When there is no eye contact, one might think, “Perhaps he can’t hear me at all. Even worse, maybe he’s not listening.” Yes, the importance of eye contact cannot be denied. Making and maintaining eye contact sends the clear message, “I am listening to you” or “Right now, you are all that matters.” Effective communication simply doesn’t occur without eye contact. The sender of a message must look at the person he’s talking to in order to assure that the listener is paying attention, understanding him, and listening.
It goes without saying that the receiver can better receive the information being communicated if she makes eye contact with the sender. Making eye contact aids in focusing on the sender of the message. Thus, the listener is more likely to receive the “correct” message, i.e. the one the sender intends to send. Communication has occurred.
Eye contact between 2 people can even be the catalyst for the development of a beautiful relationship. Remember that age old story of 2 strangers in a crowd? From across the room they make eye contact. They smile. They walk toward each other. Well, you know the rest.
The eyes serve as a barometer for human emotions. In this case, communication happens without much effort. The eyes reveal so much about what a person is thinking or how she may be feeling. Many have had the experience of looking into the eyes of a loved one and recognizing that he is feeling unhappy, hurt, or afraid. People even communicate sorrow and understanding with a certain look. A quick glance communicates disinterest. Worse yet, it may indicate that one feels hurt or disappointed.
How to Obtain Eye Contact with Someone
When you are the person talking, there are a couple of ways to obtain eye contact. Place yourself in close proximity of the person you are speaking to. Say the person’s name to prompt him to attend to you. Or, if it’s appropriate, touch the person on the shoulder or arm to get him to focus on the conversation. Finally, ask him to sit down and talk with you for a few minutes.
Communication happens when looking at someone eye-to-eye. So, never under-estimate the power and importance of eye contact.
Chaney, Rita (pen name-Pearl Grace). August 2, 2007. Communication Skills: The Importance of Eye Contact. Helium website (Original version of this article.)