This web application is dedicated to showing you how easy it is for you to take more control over your relationships with people and animals with the conscious use of your eyes. The tutorial is broken into four sections. If you can read you can succeed.
Everyone who has successfully made their living by dealing with people for any length of time has had some form of experience and training in the value of eye contact. By that I mean the process of you looking directly into the eyes of the persons you encounter and making sure they recognize your sincere effort to effectively communicate with them.
Human beings and animals have much in common when it comes to the subject of eye contact. Our pet dog which has been around the house for nearly ten years at this writing has one bad habit that we have never been able to tame. If we leave a napkin on the couch or end-table after finishing a snack, then leave the house, our dog will find it and tear it to shreds. When returning home it is always obvious that she has done something for which she is ashamed. Her eyes give it all away as well as her body language.
Normally, when we walk in the door after being gone from the house she greets us wagging her tail and looking up straight into our eyes. Her eyes are bright and fixed upon our eyes. We can hardly maneuver through the hallway as she stands there looking into our eyes without breaking contact until we have reached down and ruffled the fur around her neck and spoken a few words of greeting.
But, when she has misbehaved in our absence her greeting at the door is very different. In fact, she sometimes doesn't even come to the door as usual. Upon our return home at these times there is no wagging tail and there is no wide-eyed stare directly into our eyes. Instead she stands there with legs partially bent and with her nose pointed downward instead of pointing up at us.
Her eyes remain more or less fixed at things around the room which are about her same height. When she does look up and make eye contact it is only for a short moment, just to check on our response to her greeting. From there it depends upon whether we ignore her guilt-ridden response and reach down to pet her, or if we inquire as to what she has done. (She seems to understand the English language to a greater extend than you would expect.)
If we reach down to pat her head and ruffle the fur on her neck she apparently assumes everything is going to be alright and the eye contact increases. But as long as we maintain a cold greeting and especially if we ask her what she has done she continues to avoid eye contact as much as possible.
As you can see from the response we get from our family pet, when the relationship feel sound and secure, eye contact is an easy behavior to practice. But when the relationship has some kind of rift or stands on unsure ground, making eye contact is not as easily accomplished. And this is generally true of all animals and human beings.
It is a recognized fact that animals communicate with their eyes. They also use body gestures to some extent but the eyes are their foremost means of communication. When two animals confront each other they begin their confrontation by staring into the eyes of each other. Generally, the less dominant of the two animals will break eye contact before the other. That is, as long as there are no distractions.
The more dominant of the two will hold his stare until the other looks away. We have to ask, “Given two relatively identical animals, say dogs, what makes one of them more dominant than the other?” There may be many answers to this question but the most likely answer is that the more dominant of the two has probably won most of his dog fights. He is not about to give up his sense of superiority by looking away. At the same time the less dominant of the two remembers the last time he tried to outstare a dog and ended up into a fight.
I'm not saying that this is a literal train of thought that proceeds through the dog's mind but it follows closely along those lines. And if this is so then we can assume that, all other things being equal, dominance is really just a state of mind. Just as our pet dog has a different state of mind, depending upon the circumstances of the day, an animal and a human being can often have a state of mind that has been developed over a longer period of time and through a variety of experiences.
When we discuss the importance of eye contact we often find a diversity of opinions among the group relating to how easy or difficult it is for each individual to maintain eye-to-eye contact with another person. Some people have no difficulty learning to maintain solid eye contact with others. And, yet, there are some folks who are absolutely embarrassed to try and hold eye contact with another person for more than just a moment in time.
Even if the reluctant person knows without a doubt that eye-to-eye contact with others can significantly improve their relationships they find it almost impossible to practice this behavior. If they are working in a situation where they know their income will be affected by lack of eye contact they still struggle with trying to hold that gaze for two or three seconds. It is as if when the other person notices them looking into their eyes they are compelled to turn and look away.
When we compare the two extremes (one who finds it easy to maintain eye contact vs. one who finds it nearly impossible) we ask, “All other things being equal, why is this so?” And the answer, in most cases, is the same as that which exists in dumb animals: It relates to the state of mind of each individual. Like the two animals that assume different levels of dominance, humans assume differing levels of what we call confidence, or self-confidence.
Generally speaking, a person who possesses little self-confidence has more difficulty maintaining eye contact than one who feels very self-confident. Some may find an occasional variation from this rule but in most cases it proves to be true. We often label a person shy who keeps their eyes focused downward and tends to avoid direct eye contact. This shyness is a person's state of mind which has developed over a period of time; most likely molded by circumstances.
We cannot give circumstances 100% of the credit for these results because circumstances are usually influenced by a person's temperament. For instance, my youngest son has two daughters. The temperament of the oldest is that of an outgoing, active, busy and constructive individual. She doesn't like sitting still. But the temperament of her younger sister is pretty much the opposite. She seems to be content to sit quietly in the corner of her bedroom while she combs the hair of a doll and pretends to hold it while it sleeps.
The interesting thing to observe when watching these two sisters is their interaction with each other. The temperament of one seems to feed the temperament of the other. The busy-minded older sister takes great pleasure in running to serve the needs of the younger, quiet sister. In the process she circumstantially becomes the controlling figure in the relationship. That seems to be fine with the younger sister who has no interest in control but enjoys the security of having someone else nearby who will take care of the needs of the hour.
As they grow we can see how temperament and circumstances work together to mold their eventual adult state of mind.
So, because eye contact is such an important aspect in the development and maintenance of a good personal relationship with those around you, it is very important to overcome any of the feelings of shyness or the lack of self-confidence. As you can see, these feelings can be molded - and - re-molded if you have the desire to take on the challenge. And it is a proven fact that your ability to develop good eye contact with others will not only enhance your relationships but it can even give you a great controlling influence over them if that's what you desire.
In the following section we will discuss how you can overcome the inner feelings that hinder your ability to look someone in the eye while you are speaking to them.