By: Nicole Capo
When was the last time you held someone’s gaze for more than a few seconds without shuddering and finding an excuse to look away? We’re willing to bet it’s been a while.
Eye contact is at an all-time low and the culprit is — you guessed it! — technology.
According to the communications-analytics company Quantified Impressions, adults make eye contact between 30% and 60% of the time, but should be doing so 60% to 70% of the time to make meaningful emotional connections with others. One main reason this is going on is the takeover and social acceptability of mobile devices that cause us to look away in the middle of a conversation. Don’t lie, we’ve all done it — you sneak a glance at the basketball score in the middle of a date, or check Facebook at the dinner table. At work meetings, you take a minute (or two, or ten) to refresh your email and keep up with the outside world.
In the world of the Millennials, a lot of the blame can likely be placed on FOMO, or Fear Of Missing Out. The anxiety that others may be having more fun than you — that your friends are out partying and laughing it up while you’re sitting at home in sweats watching Friends reruns — is so prevalent among our youth, that many feel addicted to constantly checking their social media feeds to make sure they’re having as much fun as possible at any given moment. The irony is that checking those networks actually causes more anxiety and stress. People never write about their boring moments on Facebook, only the ones that will make you feel like a loser for deciding to stay in.
Another reason behind our unwillingness to look each other in the eye comes from the rise of the telecommute workspace. Not having to go into the office means not having to deal with others in person, and the ability to call in to meetings has become so prevalent that some people simply prefer to do so — even when the meeting is taking place down the hall, according to the Wall Street Journal. But no one should underestimate the advantages of meeting someone face-to-face, especially if they’re a client. Some companies have gone so far as to ban telecommuting altogether in an effort to work more efficiently.
Eye contact has long been hailed as a way of ensuring relationships built on trust, in personal as well as professional settings. Looking someone in the eye demonstrates both confidence and status. For best results, you should hold someone’s gaze for 7 to 10 seconds in one-to-one settings, and 3 to 5 seconds in a group setting.
While we have no problem with you reading through our articles all day, we’re going to have to recommend that you put down your Internet-capable device and look someone in the eye right now. It’s for the good of humankind... Seriously.
[Pic via Flickr - cdedbdme]