The Importance of Eye Contact

May 24, 2023
by Julie East

It is said, “the eye is the window to the soul.” Eye contact is a powerful force first learned as newborn babies. Infants naturally lock eyes with their parents and caregivers, providing a powerful connection to the person. This first connection communicates trust and love. This connection is retained in the adult mind.

With text, Snap and TikTok increasingly replacing in person conversation, it’s possible that a generation will lose some ability to understand the importance of eye contact. Even in social settings, instead of looking directly at someone to fully engage with them through the entire period, they may glance down at their phones or computer. As this generation enters the workforce, the importance of eye contact may require some social and personal adjustments.

We as human beings, draw a connection and information from looking into the eyes. If a person shifts eye contact frequently or looks down, we assume nervousness or unease. If people avoid our eyes during a discussion, we may think they might be lying. It shows a lack of confidence when we don’t look people in the eyes. Most people look down frequently or avoid eye contact when they’re nervous. A lack of eye contact can betray our apprehension and fear in a situation.

Good eye contact makes us feel like somebody is really listening and respects us. Good eye contact is a delicate balance though. Too much eye contact can be seen as aggressive or intimidating. Too little eye contact could appear as inattentive or insincere. The right amount of eye contact creates trust and helps build a sense of comfort.


PRACTICE. It sounds strange to practice looking at someone, but practice makes perfect. Stand in front of a mirror and talk to yourself. Be sure to look into your eyes when speaking. Do your eyes look tired? Do you look away at other objects in the room? Do you look down at notes or your hands? Be mindful of how many times you look away. Also practice with a friend or relative. Ask them to give you feedback about your own eye contact. Do you stare too much? Do you glance away too often?

SPEAKING ONE-ON-ONE. When you are meeting someone for the first time, most people are very nervous. Will they like me? What do I say? Stop over thinking. The first thing to do is look directly in their eyes, smile and introduce yourself. When the other person is speaking, be sure to keep your gaze on their eyes. Are they looking back at you? Are they looking away or distracted by other people, objects in the room. Their eye reaction can tell you a lot about their feelings on the topic or situation.

IN A MEETING OR PRESENTATION. Looking into a room full of eyes staring back at you can be overwhelming. To ease that nervousness and give your audience a sense of confidence, pick four people in the audience you can connect eyes with.  Find people in the audience who are supporting you through their body language, such as a smile or head nod. Go from person to person as you complete a point to develop a rhythm for you and your listeners. Be sure to notice their reactions to your topic. Are they looking away or looking down at a phone? Their reaction as well can give you clues about their feelings on the topic or situation.

Everyone needs a little practice on good eye contact. This week, try to develop some awareness of how you and others communicate with their eyes and be more deliberate in your approach.

About Lofton: Founded in 1979, Lofton Services offers clients the best of all worlds. We provide the responsive, personal service and flexibility of a small local firm while having the technology, resources, and infrastructure to deliver the benefits of the biggest players in our industry. Lofton can deliver the right people, with the right skills, right when you need them. Contact us today.