By Janet Adetu
In the good days the etiquette of respecting someone older than was simply not to look at that person in the eye whilst being spoken to. It was considered rude to look up and right at that elderly person. I know many people can resonate with the etiquette of the older days.
Looking at the young millennial today we see the reverse is now the case when being spoken to by your boss. You will be considered rude when looking downwards or away from your boss as he/she is addressing you. It is expected that you look up and right at your boss with direct eye contact.
It is amazing how I regularly see during networking events, how many adults still struggle with proper eye contact. They seem to feel more comfortable looking up, down, or sideways both when they are asked a question as well as when they are responding. Could it be that they are experiencing bouts of anxiety, elements of fear and considerable uncertainty? It takes a god amount of confidence to stand tall walking the walk and talking the talk.
One thing I tell my participants during trainings is that direct eye contact does not mean starring right into the eyes of another for a long-time, that would imply something is wrong. Your eye contact indeed says a lot about you and your personality. It is highly influenced by culture the people you are with as well as the environment.
Let me share a few eye contact etiquette facts and strategies that can assist you show positive non-verbal body language when you step out.
Eye Contact Etiquette
In the business world your eye contact is very important as it speaks to the kind of leader you are. In addressing your team, your colleagues, your VIP client, your customers, acquaintances and more it is your eye contact that will command the room. Your eye contact influences the respect you desire as a professional it indicates when you are looking others that they are important while you are also in control of the situation or the day. As a leader your direct eye contact is expected.
It has been said that 55% of the impact you have on someone you meet for the first time is seen in your appearance. The catch word here is seen. You cannot take the eyes out of the values of a leader. First impressions speak to not just your clothing but more importantly to the way you behave, conduct yourself and ultimately the way you communicate. You are being consciously and unconsciously judged daily, it is the little things that are detail but make the big difference. To buttress your positive first impression is to introduce yourself audibly, with proper direct eye contact added with a generous smile and handshake.
Again it is not a case of how long you can stare at someone that indicates you have good use of eye contact. You may at this point be deemed rude if you hold your gaze for longer than necessary. You begin to position yourself for a negative first impression as you will automatically look expressionless and cold. The ideal gaze at anytime is 3 to 5 seconds long. You are to look then look away intermittently in the course of a conversation. This indicates openness, trustworthiness and tact. If your gaze is very short this indicates that you are uncomfortable and probably may have something in hiding. You need to shift your gaze from the floor to the person you are speaking to.
Your lack of ability to look someone in the eye as you talk to them or better still as they are talking to you may come from an unconscious bias, habitual or the sheer lack of confidence and self – esteem. It is deemed an image saboteur if as a professional you are playing victim to these circumstances. The shyness can rob you of your inner talent and competence when you are seen for the first time. If you find yourself giving a presentation, demonstration, conducting a meeting, or briefly addressing an audience you need to braze up with a few breathing exercises, practice in front of mirror, then push yourself to excellence. Signs of lack of confidence are first seen in your ability to hold your audience with good eye contact. Do not look at one thing but learn to roam your eye if many others are looking at you. It will take a bit of practice but do not relent until you are more comfortable with yourself. Boost your self-esteem and confidence by identifying your core values in life n run with them.
As you step out of the house purpose to look like that professional you are. Your image and brand depends very much on your aura and how you come across to others. You can make or break a business deal by the wright or wrong presence you give off. It is important to identify that only a business eye contact is acceptable in the business arena for business relationships, ensure your eye contact does not send the wrong message.
Finally the use of the eyes says a lot in body language and can easily indicate or say much more than the direct words.
Where do you look when you are in a conversation?
Do you know the meaning of the direction of your gaze?
Some professionals can tell in response to certain questions if you are lying or telling the truth. You may be trying to access a past memory, or current idea. Be mindful of rolling, blinking, and wide eyed positions they are negative signs of body language. Your eyes are your prized treasure take care of them and their usage,