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    Welcome to Authentic Journeys - ഓതെന്റിക് ജെർനീയ്സ് - US-India Cross-Cultural Training

July 3, 2015

Making Eye Contact With Americans

Making eye contact in face-to-face encounters (video-con or Skype) is crucial to building trust with Americans.

While in some cultures, a downward gaze may signify deference and respect, to Americans, this same downward gaze could signify any one of these traits: 
  • A lack of confidence  
  • Untrustworthiness  
  • Unfriendliness or rudeness  
  • Shyness, a lack of initiative  
  • Not caring  
  • Not paying attention or being uninterested
  • Not listening  
I often share tips in my coaching seminars on the appropriate ways to make eye contact to build trust and friendship with Americans. The below infographic from trainerbubble.com shows some tips on where in the face to make eye contact for different kinds of gazes. Please avoid the 'intimate gaze' with colleagues.

Many Indians ask me, "I can make eye contact, but how do I know I am not staring?" This is a great question. Read the below infographic for details on this. I find their advice to be quite accurate.



Eye Contact in Business Meetings, 1 to 1 Interactions
In the video, I talk about the three type of "gazes" or eye contact types to consider when interacting with people in general. Which are the two I recommend for business interactions? Which type do I suggest you should avoid under all circumstances? 

Eye Contact as a Presenter
Keep in mind eye contact is important not only in one to one conversations, but in presentations. In a presentation it's imperative for the presenter to scan the audience frequently and make eye contact with all or as many people as possible. Making eye contact with the audience keeps them engaged and responsible to pay attention. They will also feel more compelled to pay attention as they know you are paying attention to them! 

The two types of eye contact I suggest to use in business interactions work in a similar fashion in presentations of most sizes. Making eye contact with all audience members increases engagement exponentially. If it's hard to understand, turn the situation around and think of being an attendee in a presentation. Do you feel more interested, engaged or even awake when the presenter looks at you once in awhile? 

Eye Contact as an Audience Member 
If you are an audience member in a presentation or work-related meeting with twenty people or less, it's important to make eye contact with the presenter. If someone answers a question, make eye contact with that person. If you ask a question, you are like a mini-presenter, try to look at everyone while talking to engage everyone. 

Eye Contact in Virtual Platforms 
Making eye contact can be a little challenging when in video con-calls. I talk more about this in the video embedded in this post, starting from the 12 minute 15 second mark.


Jennifer Kumar provides tailored coaching and training to executives and professionals in India working with Americans. Role plays and analysis of situations (detailing the dos and don'ts of non-verbal communication with Americans and the reasons behind it), are the hallmark of the one-to-one, small group and larger group training sessions. Please contact Jennifer for more information.

Related Links:
Using English to Express Initiative  
Using Tone of Voice to Express Initiative 

Networked blogs link: http://networkedblogs.com/KWaL9
Original post date July 15, Updated with video, May 2020

Authentic Journeys: Bridging Culture on Virtual Teams

We help build effective, culturally competent global teams with focus on the cultures of the USA and India. Jennifer Kumar, Managing Director, an American citizen, has almost 10 years experience living, studying and working (owning a business) in India. Authentic Journeys Consultancy is registered as a Private Limited in India (Kerala) and an LLC in the USA (Salt Lake City, Utah). We provide onsite and live-online instructor-led courses, facilitation and corporate coaching.