The language of the eye has been shown by researchers to be more reliable than other body language because the movements the eyes make are involuntary and fleeting. This makes it hard for people to pay as much attention to them as, say the arms, hands or the legs. “Eye access cues” through neuro-linguistic programming have found that eyes straight ahead while considering an answer means passively considering information, the eyes down means that someone is concentrating or evaluating and the eyes upward means that an idea is being analyzed. Conversely, eyes looking off into space, indicates a loss of interest, and eye contact avoidance indicates submission or fear. We can also tell a lot about what a person is thinking just by how the eyes move.
The “face-gaze” happens when one person directs their eyes at another person’s face. “Eye-gaze”, on the other hand, happens when the gaze is directed toward the eyes of another, but of which that person might not reciprocate. “Mutual-gaze” happens when two people look at each other’s faces which might include bouts of eye-gaze, and “eye-contact” refers to two people looking directly into each other’s eyes. Other forms of gaze include “omission”, defined as a failure to look at someone without intending to and “avoidance”, in which a person purposely prevents eye contact. Most are familiar with “staring”, but to be sure, we define it as a persistent look that occurs regardless of what another person is doing.
If you wish to avoid an attack with eye-help, quickly avert your eyes, pull your head and chin down, and draw your shoulders and body inward to make it appear smaller. There are other times altogether when showing submission just won’t work to avoid attack. Walking in the city at night is one of them especially for women. Postures such as slumped shoulders, drooping head and a worried face are the postures attackers use to identify easy victims. Therefore, women should adopt confident upright postures to make themselves appear difficult to overcome, but still use eye contact in a non provocative manner to reduce the chances of instigating.
The Friendly Social Gaze: The gaze is non-threatening where the eyes travel in a triangular pattern from eye to eye then to the mouth with some infrequent looks to the rest of the body. With friends, gaze is brief, lasting only about three seconds followed by looking away. The research tells us that about seventy-five percent of the time eyes travel through the triangular pattern from the eyes to the mouth, ten percent of the time is spent on forays to the forehead and hair, and five percent to the chin, with the remaining time split on various other features. After a period of gaze or mutual eye-contact both people will avert their eyes downward instead of left, right or upward.
The Intimate Gaze: If the eyes of men and women meet and there is a spark, the eyes will follow specific patterns across the face to form an intimate gaze. Initially there will be a quick burst to establish interest, then the eyes will be quickly averted. Women will show interest by breaking eye contact downward versus to the left or right. Looking left or right is seen as “stealing a look” where one either, wishes not to be caught, or is simply scanning the room. Stealing looks is what married men do when they notice attractive women and don’t want to be noticed! Looking down to break eye contact is sexy because it’s coy, submissive and teasing. Looking down punctuates sexual interest. Looking sideways is a willful indication that one is scanning the room entirely and is not checking someone else out. Although at times, a sideways look will show timidity about being caught or that one isn’t ready to reveal their true interests.
If interest is mutual and conversation arises, scanning of the face will take place. The eyes will form a triangular pattern from eye to eye and down to the mouth or chin. The eyes will also wander briefly to other parts of the face, but the vast majority of time will be spent looking at the eyes and mouth. Gaze duration during intimacy lasts approximately four to five seconds. When the eyes finally do leave the face they will check out the rest of the body to examine clothing, overall build, jewelry and rings. Both sexes, despite social norms, will glance over more intimate areas of the body such as the crotch and breasts. Men tend to check women out from the ground up, starting from the legs, then to the crotch, torso, breasts, shoulders, then face. The vast majority of women find being scanned by men to be a turn-off, however, studies show that women habitually check men out just as often, they simply do it much more discretely.
The Business Gaze: Eye contact begins as soon as you wish to engage someone, but doesn’t happen continuously and it varies with whom you speak with. In fact, eye contact should be held about eighty to ninety percent of the time when men and women speak or when women speak to each other, but when men speak to each other, eye contact should be held only about sixty to seventy percent of the time. If gaze is held for too long while men and women speak, men will evoke feelings of discomfort in women
whereas women will evoke feelings of sexual interest, context permitting, or dominance.
If eye contact between men and women is any less than the eighty to ninety percent benchmark, both sexes will read disinterest. On the other hand, if gaze is held too long amongst men, it is read as aggression, or if too short, as a lack of confidence or shiftiness. In business, it is important not to cast our gaze below the neckline so as not to appear sexually interested. Most of the business gaze is spent traveling from eye to eye and down but only as far as the nose. The goal of the business gaze is to show interest and intensity but omit any sexual indicators.
Here is a break-down for the complete set of eye movement patterns and what they mean as they relate to business:
1. Eyes focused straight ahead – passive receiving of information
2. Prolonged eye contact – threat and aggression or disinterest in sales pitch
3. Eyes to the right – message is being considered
4. Eyes to the left – person is relating to a past experience.
5. Eyes down – emotional concentration from an emotional thinker.
6. Extended looks away – desire to withdraw or vacate.
7. Eyes at ceiling – conscious analyzing.