The Power of Eye Contact

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Eye contact and eye expressions are arguably one of the strongest and most intimate forms of non-verbal communication through reading a person’s body language during face-to-face interaction. Eye contact can make or break a job interview or presentation, romantic dates, casual conversations and many other situations. It can show whether a person is feeling sad, happy, confident, excited or scared and so on. Experts say it is unclear whether it is a person’s eyeballs directly portraying the look of certain emotions or if it is the muscles surrounding the eyeball that creates the expression. “When we make eye contact with another person, we are in some sense giving that person keys to our emotional world” (Ellsberg 6). Research explains that the most distinct expression is the glistening expression of rage in a person’s eyes. It can cause the eyes to become bright, bloodshot and even protruding from the sockets, which Darwin calls an example of serviceable expression (Ellsberg 15). Serviceable expression is one of the types of principles that Charles Darwin believes is the majority of human body language, the other one being the principle of anti-thesis, which he wrote about in his book The Expressions of Emotions in Man and Animals in 1872. Serviceable expression is natural instinct like reaction that the eyes make to a certain situation. For example, if it is bright or someone is having trouble seeing something, they will squint or if a person is surprised their eyes will widen, making their emotions obvious to others. The other principle is the principle of antithesis which is described by the “shrug”. This principle is done voluntarily and used to express opposing attitudes. In chapter one of The Power of Eye Contact by Michael Ellsberg, the author explain how many of his friends had a deep, emotional and almost very personal hatred against Bill Clinton, even though they had all never met him. At an event one night, some of these friends ended up face-to-face with Clinton and their views of him changed immediately all because of his powerful eye contact. Many say that Bill Clinton not only seduces woman, but everyone he makes eye contact with. He starts off with a handshake and looks deep into the eyes of that person, and when moving on to the next person, he looks back at the previous person “sealing the deal”. His eye contact is so powerful it can make whoever he is speaking to make them feel as if they are the only two in a room full of people. He can make a person feel that they are almost special to him. Many woman go home afterwards expecting a message or e-mail from Bill because they felt so connected after locking eyes in such a seductive manner.

Eye contact is a natural occurrence, though, it is also a skill that can be learned to be improved on in just two weeks, illustrates chapter two. Many people have a fear of eye contact. My own personal experiences proves that some people out there are terrified of eye contact with strangers. A few months ago I had been getting work done on my car when the mechanic called me over to speak of some issues and that was when I realized he could not look me in the eyes. He looked everywhere else but at my eyes. When he did make the slightest eye contact with me he immediately looked in the opposite direction like it was an accident or he had did something wrong. It was so bad I could not even focus on what he was saying because I was so confused that maybe something was wrong with him or even the possibility that he might have been blind, that was how bad it was. People may be petrified by eye contact because it makes them feel vulnerable. If they make eye contact with a person then that person maybe be able to tell how they really feel. Some people just want to keep their feelings and emotions to themselves because of the possible risks of being laughed at or embarrassed. Second, others may be afraid of eye contact because they have social phobias or anxieties (Ellsberg...
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