Even if you haven’t uttered a word, your non-verbal communication is speaking volumes on your behalf.
Eye contact is one of the most revealing forms of communication. Your gaze can influence people’s perceptions about you and your suitability as an employee, potential mate, or trusted friend. A recent article in Psychology Today by Dr. Adrian Furnham explores the messages we unconsciously send and receive with our gaze, and how nonverbal behavior can be used to connect, influence, and persuade.
For example, people who seek out eye contact while speaking are regarded as “not only exceptionally well-disposed by their targets, but also more believable and earnest, “ according to Furnham. Sounds like the oft-purveyed advice about “sweeping the room” with your gaze, and looking at individual members of your audience during a speech can actually go a long way.
The way we look at others, and the length of time we spend looking reveals much about our personality and our estimation of the person we’re interacting with. According to Furnham, gaze signals dominance -- more powerful people are looked at more, (partly because they tend to look more and speak less.) The socially dominant look more, while the opposite is true for the socially anxious.
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Not surprisingly, people look at those they like more than those they don’t (according to Furnham, our pupils dilate more when we are interacting with friends!) If the usual “short, intermittent gazes of a conversation are replaced by gazes of longer duration, the target interprets this as meaning that the communication is less important than the personal relationship between two people.” So be careful who you’re directing that gaze at!
Interestingly, Furnham says that people can have better, more productive conversations when they are walking or doing a co-operative activity, especially if they are talking about a difficult or personal subject. While you probably already knew not to stare fixedly at the ground during a job interview, or make scary, unwavering eye contact during a first date, it’s always interesting to learn more about what our gaze is communicating to others (and how we can alter this, particularly during pivotal moments like giving a speech or having an important conversation with a client) Read the full article here!
Do you think non-verbal communication is just as important as what we say?