Must-Read: Watch Your Eyes
Since we’ve been young, one of the constant refrains we’ve learned about how to persuade someone is to use eye contact. Look them in the eye. Make them know you mean business. Let them know you have nothing to hide. Stare at them in the eye until the budge. Well, turns out that information that all of us know like the back of our hands at this point MAY not entirely be the best thing out there. In fact, looking someone in the eye while trying to persuade them may actually make our cases a whole lot worse.
This isn’t us just speaking out of school here. There’s an actual test that backs this us. In fact, let’s head over to Men’s Fitness where they have an interesting little piece about how eye contact may mess with your intentions. For example, the study about eye contact says:
In two experiments, German researchers asked people to watch videos of speakers talking about controversial topics like assisted suicide or nuclear energy.
Listeners who looked the virtual speaker in the eye were less likely to change their opinion to match that of the speaker’s. In effect, eye contact decreased the power of persuasion.
But eye contact doesn’t always mean resisting the hard sell. Listeners in the study who already agreed with the speaker spent more time looking the speaker in the eye. In this case, say the researchers, it’s more comfortable to look someone in the eyes if you agree with them … or “see eye to eye” with them.
Which, yes, goes just against about everything we’ve learned about eye contact and persuasion. So keep that in mind next time you’re making a sales pitch, whether it’s to someone at work or some lady at the club. Eye contact can hurt you sometimes.
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About Rick Mosely Rick is the editor for TSB magazine.