Appropriate eye contact is extremely important in North America. The way you use eye contact can deeply influence how someone feels about you. Not only am I referring to how directly and long you maintain eye contact, but also the angle you use. Do you have your head raised a lot and look down at the person you are speaking with? Do you have your head down and look up? Sometimes these habits are cultural. Sometimes they have to do with your vision. And culture also dictates when you can make direct eye contact and how long you can maintain it without being inappropriate.
Regardless of the reason for using any particular type of eye contact, people will judge you based on what they feel is appropriate and what they interpret to be your perspective. Learning culturally appropriate eye contact can take time. Observe others, mirror those you are conversing with and get a feel for the timing.
The following article and video describe and demonstrate culturally appropriate eye contact.
What Does Your Eye Contact Say About You?
By Successfully Speaking
The eyes are often referred to as the “windows to the soul” and they play a key part in face-to-face communication. They can create a powerful connection between the speaker and listener. Eye contact is one of the critical components of non-verbal communication and it carries several subtle rules of engagement. The presence or lack of eye contact can communicate dominance, submission, honesty, interest, passion, respect, or even hostility. It also shows we are an active listener.
Various cultures place different degrees of importance on whether or not to maintain eye contact, and what it may convey. In American culture, eye contact is essential to convey honesty, sincerity, and confidence.
photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/rachelzander/554546438/”>Rach ♥</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a>