You're welcome to the series of posts on the body language of eye contact in action:
It's the little tricks you can do and the certain types of gazes you can give to help you with:
I've talked about the different types of gazes and their uses here, and I highly recommend reviewing it before you start, to have a better understanding of some key terms.
If you're ready, let's start with:
Conversation is more than just an exchange of syllables; a lot is said through non verbal cues that set the 'tempo' and tone of the conversation.
Through the body language of eye contact we instinctively understand whose turn is to speak and how interested the other party in what we say. Let's see some guidelines that can help you regulate the conversation:
To push the speaker to tell you more, you need to encourage him to do so. It's easily done if you show interest in his words by leaning forward, nodding and maintaining eye contact using the social gaze. It sends a warm and welcome image that you like what you hear and see – you want more.
If you only want to pretend you're interested, it's important to nod or tilt your head a little to the side, blink often enough and try to look engaged with your eyes. Blank unblinking gaze, with your head about to fall from your hand, won't do you any good. Try to shift in your position and change your posture if nothing works.
If on the contrary, you're just dying that someone will quit his blabber, you can try doing 2 things:
1. Either stare him\her squarely in their eyes with an intimidating power gaze. Don't move your head and keep your face expressionless as much as possible. This way you send a cold and unnerving message by avoiding showing any signs of feedback to them.
2. Just generally avoid eye contact. Nothing says ' I don't want to hear more' than turning your head aside. Be sure you understand the consequences though, it's a plain obvious sign that can easily offend the other party – make sure it's worth it.
Keeping an eye contact during your phase of talking makes the other person more attentive to what you say. With enough practice, you can make the listener feel as if he's the sole person in the world, your full attention and message is targeted especially towards him.
What if your audience consists of two or more? What if it's a crowd?
It's not easy, but do try to meet each face and hold their gaze for a moment – It's like being a human lighthouse, with your gaze as the light sweeping the room.
When mastered properly - the effect can be tremendous – Imagine your feelings if in a lecture, the lecturer, rather than staring blankly into space will meet your gaze during his speech? Even for just one split second? You will definitely feel more involved and perhaps even be on your toes… maybe his words are intended especially for you…
In my job, when I speak and need the full attention of my pupils (kids aren't the most attentive and calm group as you can imagine…) I try to meet everyone's gaze when I talk. I want them to understand that what I say at that moment is extremely important and I wish that each kid will feel that I refer to him personally.