Eye Contact, Eye Communication and Eye Roll

Eye Quote Ralph Waldo Emerson

  • Two weeks ago a speaker looked down at his TV monitor most of the time, and glanced fleetingly at the audience.
  • Last week a sales person looked me in the eye when he explained how the camera worked, and I believed him when he said he wouldn’t bargain.
  • The other night my wife made a comment, and unfortunately I gave one of my (rare) eye rolls, and she picked me off.

At Decker we teach and preach six behavioral skills – they have nothing to do with content and everything to do with establishing confidence, trust and authenticity. The most important of these is eye communication.

eye contact 2Clients often ask us what is the difference between eye contact and eye communication.

Eye contact is fleeting. It can be in passing, just a glance or a fraction of a second. It can be eyes flitting across an audience not really connecting. It could turn into a form of connection, but it isn’t necessarily communication.

Eye communication is connection – think of eye contact on steroids.  It’s the act of two pairs of eyes connecting and the contact leading to communication.  Eye communication involves more extended eye contact (at least 3-5 seconds for speakers communicating to a group) that forms a bond between two people.  As a speaker communicating to an audience, eye communication is the key to engaging with your audience.  It makes your presentation more like a conversation than a pitch.

Eye communication:

  • establishes rapport
  • strengthens listener involvement
  • contributes to a higher retention leveleye contact
  • increases your ability to persuade

A successful communications experience requires engaged eye communication.  If the listeners’ ears are open but their eyes are closed, no connection can be made.  Eye communication is the key.

On the other hand, eye roll is discounting what the other person said. It is a put-down, and is actually much stronger a put-down than we tend to think. Often after an eye roll is picked off by the other party we hear the reply, “But I didn’t say anything.”

Look at this classic case of disdain shown by the many eye rolls (and other behaviors) from the TV show, The Apprentice:

“To make oneself understood to the people, one must first speak to their eyes.” – Napoleon Bonaparte

Don’t just make contact, communicate with your eyes. Positively.