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
Unfriendliness or rudeness
Shyness, a lack of initiative
Not paying attention or being uninterested
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 shows some tips on where in the face to make eye contact for different kinds of gazes. Please avoid the ‘intimate gaze’ with colleagues.
Dos and Don’ts of Eye Contact
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.
Tips on Eye Contact in Various Settings
Business Meetings, 1 to 1 Interactions
In the video, I talk about the three type of “gazes” 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?
Keep in mind that 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 to “look at” 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 using 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?
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, look in the direction of the person talking. If you ask a question, you are like a mini-presenter, try to look at everyone while talking to engage everyone.