The intricate dance of eye contact


I’m amazed that I’ve only learned about this in my thirties. I’ve started seeing a new subcurrent of information that is communicated wordlessly (like body language). Now, it is so much more interesting to pay attention to and participate in this dance. What are they signaling? Did the interlocutor notice your move?

How to Make Eye Contact the Right Way in Life, Business, and Love by Brett & Kate McKay.

For some time, I’ve been mindful about my own eye contact during various forms of communication. But I never did the next step — treat and interpret the variety of possible eye contacts as the signals they are. We’re hardwired to interpret eye contact as a signal to answer questions like are you interested or not, are you submissive or dominant, are you trustworthy?

For example, in some contexts, I just took notice that “it’s uncomfortable to hold that gaze” and concluded “I’ll look at the table instead”. After reading this article, I started making the next step of assessing the situation: “…which could be interpreted as me signaling lower status”. After that I can choose whether that is something I want to happen right now.

Having predetermined etiquette for expressing interest in the opposite sex is also very handy. In the past, after meeting a woman’s gaze several times I usually started thinking “Does it mean anything, or is it a coincidence? Should I go say hi now or wait a couple of minutes to be sure?”. The article conveniently answers these questions and more.

When you look over at a woman, she will usually look away, whether she’s interested in you or not. But the way in which she averts her gaze tells you a lot about whether she wants you to approach her or not […]

I will not paste more quotes, the article is small and neatly divided with subheadings so you can take only what you need:

  • General guidelines on how to do it. When to look, where to look, how long, how to avert your gaze and what does it signal
  • Sales and pitching (job interviews included)
  • When you need to intimidate/dominate or diffuse a conflict
  • Meeting the eyes of a stranger in the street
  • Making eye contact with a woman
  • When giving a speech

After I started paying attention and choosing my eye contact behavior rather than reacting, I’ve became more confident in almost all of those situations. And confidence feels great.

What else might I be missing? I’m sure there are more nuances to communication than I know of, after all Concept-Shaped Holes Can Be Impossible To Notice. Drop me a line if you have something in mind.