Tips for Making Eye Contact

I took a long walk this morning on a popular track here on my home island of Jersey. It was a beautiful sunny day at just the right temperature for walking so I wasn’t the only one who decided to do this lovely walk. There were a number of people, old and young, and lots and lots of dogs.


There was an eclectic mix of trees and flowers along the way. One man commented to me on the bamboo – he was surprised that it hadn’t become predominant as bamboo has a tendency to takeover. In addition to the beauty of nature, curiously, I noticed that many people could not look me in the eye as they passed by. I said hello to virtually everyone I passed except those who looked too frightened to entertain such an exchange with their eyes swiftly darting to the ground as I approached.


It’s nothing new that some lack the confidence to look another in the eye, yet I find the extent of this action as somewhat of a cultural thing. And the culture we grow up in has a lot to do with how we think and behave.


Consider the tradition in India of Namaskar or Namaste.


According to the Spiritual Research Foundation, Namaskar, also known as Namaste, is a form of greeting practiced most in the Indian Subcontinent. It is used both while greeting and parting company. When a person greets another with namaskar, the greeting is accompanied by a slight bow made with hands pressed together, palms touching and fingers pointed upwards and closely positioned in front of the chest. The hand position is known as the Namaskar Mudra (Mudra means a particular hand gesture or position.)


While it is a popular non-contact form of greeting along with the Japanese bow and the hand-wave, its spiritual basis is what sets it apart from any other greeting the Foundation has researched.


‘Namaskar’ is a Sanskrit word which is derived from another Sanskrit word ‘Namaha’, which means paying obeisance. The greeting of namaskar is when the Soul in one person acknowledges and pays obeisance to the Soul in an other.


The intention behind the greeting is such that as this greeting is about acknowledging the Divine in another, it enhances the spiritual potency and attracts Divine consciousness. This helps spiritual growth.


For any of you who would like to know more about the practice of Namaskar, I’ve attached the link below.


Just over 10 years ago I travelled to Northern India and stayed in the Himalayan foothills at a wonderful spa and yoga retreat near Riskhikesh. Located on the Ganges River, the city is renowned as a centre for studying yoga and meditation. Everyone there greeted me with ‘Namaskar’. Lovely on a spiritual level – just a tad excessive.


I must admit that after 10 days I found it somewhat tedious. If a staff member had greeted me once or twice during the day, that would have been appreciated. However, having the same staff member (who I saw often) saying Namaskar to me a half dozen times or more in a day was overkill. Imagine the number of staff I greeted in a day. There was a whole lot of namaskar-ing going on!


For me, the magic was lost.   Perhaps we can get too much of a good thing?


On the other hand, the Japanese bow, is where the bower expresses appreciation and respect to the person being bowed to by bending at the waist.


In many Middle Eastern cultures there are a few common threads. Eye contact is less common and considered less appropriate than in Western Cultures.   There are strict gender rules, whereby women should not make too much eye contact with men as it could be misconstrued as a romantic interest.  When I was a young woman traveling in Mexico I found this to be true for me there too.


In many African and Latin American cultures, intense eye contact is seen as aggressive, confrontational and extremely disrespectful.


In Western cultures, eye contact is expected. If somebody doesn’t give eye contact during a conversation, it may be considered insulting. Many people would take this to mean that they weren’t interested. In an interview situation, strong eye contact is seen as a sign of self-belief, whereas a lack of eye contact is seen as a lack of confidence.


Tips for Making Eye Contact


  • When traveling, in order not to offend your hosts or give the wrong impression, consider conducting an Internet search on cultural nuances before you leave home. Words only make up 7% of communication. Body language is far more important at 55%. Many people will study a language before traveling to another country without considering the benefit of learning the local body language. As they say, ‘when in Rome.’


  • If you live in or are working in a country where making eye contact is important and you don’t want to be thought of as someone who lacks confidence and you’re just not ready to look someone in the eye – then look the person at the spot in-between their eyes (the third eye). They won’t know the difference. The other person will assume you are looking at their eyes.


When we pass others with our heads looking towards the ground or darting our eyes in the other direction, the impression we leave is that we are full of self-doubt, are afraid or are avoiding. Some cultures would find this behaviour very strange indeed and possibly insulting.


When I was a girl and a young woman, I used to do shy. I found it very difficult to look another in the eye but I practiced and practiced until it became an unconscious reflex. In NLP speak, we call this acting ‘AS IF’. It’s a great technique for acquiring positive behaviours.

#self-growth #spiritual growth

The face is a picture of the mind as the eyes are its interpreter. “ – Cicero

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