Learning how to make strong eye contact is one of the most useful skills you can develop, both in your personal and professional life. Humans are social animals, and there is a lot we can tell about one another just based on eye contact. Scientists believe that this is due to something called the “cooperative eye hypothesis.” As early humans, we were able to communicate better than other primates using just our eyes, allowing for greater cooperation and coordination of activities.
This holds true today, as people who make more eye contact are considered more socially adept than those who don’t. You’ve probably had an experience with someone who didn’t make enough eye contact. Though they were most likely just nervous about meeting someone new, not making eye contact can make someone seem shifty and even like they might be lying.
Those who make strong eye contact with other are perceived to have a number of valuable traits, including:
- Dominant – When we’re frightened, the natural instinct is to look away from whatever is scaring us. This is why people who aren’t afraid to make direct eye contact with others come across as dominant and commanding.
- Honest – Going back to the cooperative eye hypothesis, people who make strong eye contact are typically seen as honest. You’ve probably heard the expression “the eyes are the windows to the soul,” which implies that it is difficult to hide from someone while gazing directly into their eyes.
- Confident – This point is related to projecting dominance. If you aren’t afraid of what other people think about you, you’ll naturally feel more comfortable expressing your opinions and being your authentic self.
- Friendly – Because making eye contact indicates a willingness to cooperate, people who make a lot of eye contact come across as friendly and approachable. If someone won’t meet your eye, you’ll probably assume they are standoffish.
- Capable – Someone who projects confidence, honesty, and friendliness will also seem more capable, as they won’t be afraid to cooperate with others to complete tasks.
All of these traits are important to showcase when interviewing or giving a presentation. You want your employer to feel confident in hiring you because they know you are a team player and can be trusted to get the job done. Luckily, improving your eye contact is a skill that can be learned and practised. If you need some help working on your eye contact, take a look at this guide from Rory for practice techniques as well as recommendations for specific tricky scenarios like making a speech.
How did you become more comfortable with your confidence with eye contact? Let us know in the comments below.