In a prior post on “How to land that first professional job – The Face-to-Face Interview” I outlined detailed steps to go through when meeting someone.
More specifically, this included the importance of looking the other person squarely in the eye when greeting and speaking with them.
Over the past week I experienced 2 interactions with “professionals” that served to inspire this post.
In both scenarios the individual I was speaking with would not look me in the eye.
The first, oddly enough, was my eye doctor, during a recent appointment.
We were talking about how business was going, my eyesight and corrective lens options (he had the gall to suggest that I am now old enough for progressive lenses 🙂 ), etc.
Instead of looking at me while we were talking he was turned to the side and speaking directly to the wall. So weird. I almost waved my hand in front of his face to see if he was blind, as he was clearly looking in the wrong direction when we should have been eye-to-eye…
The second scenario happened while onsite with a client. A group of us were huddled outside a conference room waiting for our next meeting to begin. I struck up some small talk with one of my fellow meeting goers…
Upon acknowledging my inquiry he glanced in my direction as he gave his response, eye-lids fluttering rapidly. He would not make eye contact.
I have to tell you, in both cases, my first impression was – HE IS HIDING SOMETHING.
Reality: This may or may not be true. It is more likely that they are both self-conscious and uncomfortable looking someone in the eye.
While we are told from an early age to NOT judge a book by its cover, human nature is that we too often do. As such, the trait of not looking another person in the eye during conversation will cause people to doubt, even not trust, you.
So, if making eye contact is difficult for you, get help 🙂
As painful as this may seem, make it a point to make eye contact when greeting someone and maintain the “appropriate” amount of eye contact during conversation.
This does not mean staring wide-eyed at someone and not blinking for the duration of the conversation. It means face the other person, look them in the eye and, as appropriate, glancing away to give thought to what was said and then re-establishing eye contact on an ongoing basis.
Bottom-line: If you want to be acknowledged and respected as a true professional you MUST make and maintain the “appropriate” amount of eye contact. If you don’t do so, whether you are self-conscious (a.k.a. nervous) or truly are hiding something this will serve as a limiting factor for you in terms of your career and/or business.
Let them see the white of your eyes!