“One of the most wonderful things in nature is the glance of the eye; it transcends speech; it is the bodily symbol of identity.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson:
It has been said for centuries that the “eye is the window to the soul.” So if part of living intentionally is learning to connect with people at the soul level – relating with others beyond just shallow surface conversation – then we need to develop and hone the skill of good eye contact. Besides touch, eye contact is the most powerful form of body language. It is the ultimate form of unspoken communication. When you start a conversation with genuine and intentional eye contact you are saying:
Good eye contact instantly shrinks the relational distance between you and the person whose eyes meet yours. Combined with positive and caring facial expressions, eye contact instantly diffuses walls, breaks down barriers, changes moods, and builds unfathomable bonds. Dating experts believe that eye contact is one of the key factors in establishing strong and committed romantic relationships. Put another way, good eye contact invites intimacy, and connecting with others at the soul level is going to require that they feel they can trust you intimately.
Resist using good eye contact as a technique to get what you want. Use it as an opportunity to express the value of others. With your eyes, tell those around you that they matter.
Learning to develop and cultivate good eye contact isn’t easy, so here is an exercise to help you in the process. Begin every interaction by looking into the other person’s eyes to determine their eye color and then quickly repeat the color of that person’s eyes in your mind. This can be more difficult (and more exciting) than you think. Too often, we have trained ourselves to gaze around another person’s eyes without actually looking into them. Do not glare; your goal isn’t to frighten but to see if you can catch just a glimpse of their soul in the process. You can discover a lot about a person’s story from just by glancing into their eyes.
As you commit to this practice, you might find that others may not return eye contact at first. Many of us carry stories of shame and rejection and their impact has not only affected us at the soul level, but also at the eye level. If your honest gaze is met with eyes that shyly or fearfully dart away, find a way to compliment him or her. You’d be surprised at how quickly their eyes will once again meet yours. For them, your compliment says ‘they matter.’ From there, your eyes will continue to show it.
Much of our culture today says “I am the center of my own universe,” and our eyes have often shown it. Living intentionally means recognizing the value of others, even over your self. Practice good eye contact for a month and then chart what difference it makes in the lives of those around you, and in your own life. Begin to open the window of other people’s souls and watch them open up to you more than ever before.