To Eye Contact or Not To Eye Contact

Free Stock Images

Free Stock Images

What did you learn growing up about Eye Contact?

Were you in the hard knocks school of “Look me in the eye, Son!” or did you hear “Never look a person in the eye” from your social mentors?

And when you fell in love. The first time. Was it in her eyes that you found yourself? And could he see right into your heart when he gazed into your baby blues? Or in my case, the brown-eyed girl?

Attended a marriage seminar several years back called PAIRS where the first lesson shared the importance of body language, encouraging couples to establish a focused position before talking. Knee to knee. Eye to eye.

But not everyone does the eye contact thing naturally. Personally, I get a tad distracted if I’m concentrating too hard when I look into someone’s eyes. My mind begins this peripheral dialogue that sends me into a zone all by itself.

“He’s looking into my eyes. I’m looking into his. He’s holding his stare. Holy cow, he hasn’t blinked. In a really long time. Wait! Which eye am I looking in? Left? Right? Both? Yikes! Who will look away first? [I do… then return, and…] He’s still looking. Right into my eyes. Wow. What was I saying? What were we talking about?”

That was then. But now, for the most part, I want to look into a person’s eyes when we speak. Emphasis on the word “want.” Somewhere along the way, someone taught me the art of focusing on the bridge of a person’s nose. I know, a bit of a cheating tactic, but I’m so thankful for the tip. Because I still look in a person’s eyes, but every few seconds, I shift my gaze to the bridge. In order to bridge my zig-zag mind and actually focus on what’s being said. Else I’m lost. In a classic stare dare, and I hate losing the game of who will look away first. :)

Today, my biggest challenge, as is many of us out there with iPhones or any  SmartPhone, is to look away from my electronics and talk face to face. I’ll be the first to admit that even as I look someone in the eyes during a conversation, if my phone is in my hands, I’m fiddling. Clicking for no reason. Fighting the urge to look down, just to look down.

I do better when I just tuck the phone away. Out of reach. Out of sight. Mostly out of mind.

I must confess, I’m a little worried about this next generation. And I’m sure I’m not the first to bring this up. But Hubs and I have been on dates where we’re having dinner at a nice restaurant, and two tables down, a couple is talking, but they are both staring at their phones. The whole time.

And teens. Fuggetaboutit. Know a seventh grade teacher who says the cafeteria scene is a sea of young adults looking down. Tapping away. Or index-finger swiping across screens in many cases. On their Smartphones, iPods and iPads. In fact, back when the brand names of your jeans and high tops determined your social ranks in school hallways, nowadays, it’s your phone.

“Whatdya mean you don’t have the new iPhone5?” is the status question of the day.

So what are we to do? In this new day and age where eye contact is neither practiced or preached?

Because I believe our connection as a human race depends on it. Connecting via social media is at best fun, entertaining, and businessly-beneficial. At worse, the virtual links we make with others elude us into thinking we’re not alone. When in fact, we feel lonely and lonelier still when the 10% battery left warning flashes.

Balance. You have to strive for a balance. Think back to a time [if you’re old enough to recall or ask your parents if you’re not] when there was no alternative to face to face dialogue. When we gave each other the gift of time and undivided attention. No one rushed off into the twilight zone of cyberworlds. No one rushed off, in general. Time was a treasure we gave to each other.

And teach your children to look up when they’re being addressed. And tuck your phone away when you’re spending time with your loved ones. You might miss the latest status update of your 1001 cyber friends. But the greater loss is the treasure of present company, and hurt you’ll cause for choosing to be distracted. Something I’m embarrassed to admit that I’m all too familiar with.

And while you’re at it, [looking at your friend face to face, that is,] turn the volume down. Or off—even better. Cuz if I had a dollar for every time I heard the familiar jingle of a cell phone in a library, restaurant, theater or church, I’d have enough cash flow to buy all my kids their own iPhone and still have leftovers to pay for data charges.

Eye contact. Is a choice. For most of us. My main character Talia, in Swimming Through Clouds, rarely makes eye contact. But her issues have nothing to do with smartphones and their ability to magnetically draw our gaze downward. Anyone who “signs up” on my blog for the occasional Newsletter and Book Release Updates [Thank you if you already did! :) ] will get a sneak peak at the first two chapters a week before the release date! June 1st!! at [Amazon and Smashbooks!]

Look me in the eye and tell me that doesn’t sound appealing! 😉

Happy Monday, all. And the next person you talk to today, surprise them by looking into their eyes. And smiling. Bet you’ll be surprised to find you’ll receive much more than you give. In that tiny act of attention. Because bridges are built. When you pay attention to each other. Listen. And care. With your stare. :)


And you? Is making eye contact your thing? When’s the last time you failed to make eye contact and kicked yourself later?  That would be yesterday, for me! Yep. Sorry, Hubs. Work in progress, yes I am. Always.

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3 thoughts on “To Eye Contact or Not To Eye Contact

  1. Interesting. For me eye contact is difficult, I suspect that it has something to do with being self-conscious, not wanting to reveal who I am, feeling vulnerable, perhaps a fear of intimacy.

  2. I have a dear friend who I met in high school (one of the few with whom I am still in touch) and she is a good deal shorter than I. Once she took me to task for looking over/past her while she was talking to me at my locker. I didn’t mean anything by it – I was paying attention, sort of, but I will always remember that it made her feel belittled, and I try not to do that.