This article was first created sometime in 2015 and last updated on the 10th of January, 2016 by Patrick Carpen.
Have you ever heard the expression “look me in the eyes and tell me that you’re not lying”? – It’s because humans are wired to think it’s difficult to lie while looking into the eyes of the person you’re talking to. And while seasoned liars can lie calmly in just about any circumstance, I do agree that it is less easy to lie while looking someone directly in the eyes.
I’ve never liked the practice of looking people directly in the eyes while communicating. I like to look into my girlfriend’s eyes: it’s a personal, intimate experience; but for everyone else I meet and talk to, I tended to avoid eye contact like the plague. I find it a bit uncomfortable, and I have found quite a number of people who share my views. I didn’t even like to look people directly in the face; maybe a glance here and there; but my eyes moved from head to shoulder, from the floor to the ceiling, around me, at an object nearby…you get the picture.
Nevertheless, all throughout my life, I’ve heard or overheard tiny lectures on the importance of maintaining eye contact. And once a close acquaintance of mine said he didn’t feel comfortable going into a venture with me because something didn’t seem right about my proposal. He later mentioned that he suspected I wasn’t being straight with him because I wasn’t making proper eye contact. I was a bit shocked, but I noted his remarks well. And that brings us to: the importance of making eye contact in business.
When I was teaching English at the Wizard school in Brazil, Silvana, the owner of the school, had a habit of looking me directly in the eyes while talking to me. I noticed this, and I had a hunch somehow that she wanted me to look directly into her eyes too. One time she insisted that I take my shades off while talking about an important business matter, because, as she said “she likes to see the eyes of the person she is talking to”.
I don’t doubt that the eyes could reveal a lot. Happiness, fear, anger and sadness could all be detected in the eyes of people who are harboring those emotions, and there is this saying “the eyes are the windows to the soul”.
When I came back to Lethem and started working at the Takutu Hotel, the Manager, Ms. Morsha Johnson, advised me of the importance of maintaining eye contact while talking to guests who check into the hotel. I personally observed that she was in the habit of making direct eye contact when talking to me. I reciprocated the practice.
It was then that I started becoming aware of the fact that many business people like to make eye contact. Not long after, I embarked on a distribution business, and I noticed that whenever I made eye contact with a potential business partner, they were 95% more likely to say “yes” to the business deal, or spend a considerably longer time discussing it, and giving useful advice and information.
It would appear like glancing away from a person’s eyes sends the message, consciously or subconsciously, that “this guy has something to hide” or “this guy is not being straight and honest”, or “this guy doesn’t know what he’s about”. It would appear like many people, especially successful business people, interpret things that way.