Monday, February 14, 2011
“The Eyes Have it” - The Paul Paterakis Power Team RE/MAX Showcase
Recently I had the opportunity to read about an interview with Michael Ellsberg, an expert in the art of eye contact and I would like to share with you some of his points that will help you, unless you already have them, with your customers and clients.
Many of us are “eye shy” and holding another person’s gaze makes us feel uncomfortable or even vulnerable. We need to work on that part since making strong eye contact increases the odds for us to be considered honest, trustworthy and confident. It could help you get that new contract/listing or even spark your current relationship! Michael recommends we begin by practicing in situations where very little is at stake just to get comfortable with it; here is his road map:
* Make eye contact with strangers you pass in public areas. Establish your eye contact when you are four or five paces away; keep a neutral expression and hold your gaze just long enough to determine the stranger’s eye color – no longer than one second. Longer eye contact or pronounced facial expressions, even smiles, can make strangers uncomfortable.
* Make extended eye contact with salespeople, waiters and waitresses among the many.These people tend to be very receptive to eye contact and skilled at returning it in a friendly manner. They know that strong eye contact often results in larger tips and commissions. Once you feel more comfortable making this low pressure eye contact, try holding eye contact with people you know.
The first day maintain contact for a moment longer than it feels comfortable. Then the next day, maintain the eye contact for a moment longer than that. When someone breaks eye contact with you, you should too; Extending eye contact any longer will make him/her uncomfortable.
* Expert tricks. The goal during eye contact is to send a soft gaze, not a penetrating laser like stare. When you are speaking with someone, relax the muscles of your brow and imagine that you are talking in both of your conversation partner’s eyes at once.
* Helpful. Maintaining an attitude of warmth and charity toward the person with whom you are speaking can help create a soft, reassuring gaze. When the time comes to break eye contact, do so by looking to the side. Breaking eye contact by glancing down sends a signal of shame and submission. Breaking it by looking up sends a signal of uncertainty and will seem somewhat
unnatural. Once eye contact is broken, gaze slightly to one side of his/her eyes. Do not focus on something or someone else suggesting disinterest in the person with whom you are speaking unless the conversation is about that person or thing.
* In a professional setting. Try to make eye contact for about half the time that you are speaking with someone: about five seconds on and five seconds off. Making more eye contact than this could seem overly familiar and inappropriate. Adjust according to your conversation partner’s reaction. Do not cut more than 50 % or you could appear unsure.
* With friends. Pay attention to how much eye contact each particular friend tends to make with you and try to do the same. This increases the odds that the friend will feel a bond with you.
* To build intimacy in a romantic relationship. Resume eye contact almost immediately upon breaking it. If the person you are speaking with does the same, the odds are very good that you have made a strong connection. Unfortunately, the opposite is also very true.
* Meeting with buyers/sellers, sales calls in general. Must look confident but not pushy; we also need to give the impression that we are “on the same page” as the client. One subtle-but effective way to accomplish both of these things is to alternate who breaks eye contact. Early in the conversation, notice how long the client tends to hold eye contact with you; then, strive to break contact first roughly half the time. Always breaking contact first seems unsure, while always maintaining eye contact longest seems overbearing. As we break and resume the eye contact, it will become more natural and nothing to worry about any longer.
* Public speaking. Do not try to make eye contact with everyone when speaking to large groups. It’s better to maintain eye contact with a single audience member for five to ten seconds or until you complete your thought before gazing to someone else. Don’t worry if you do not have time to make eye contact with everyone. Even audience members whose eyes you do not meet will sense that you are making connections and will feel closer to you because of it. If you are not comfortable with public speaking or not doing well on that session, make eye contact with only the members of the audience who are nodding in agreement.
* A showdown. If your goal is to prevail in an adversarial situation, maintain eye contact with your adversary for as long as possible. It does not weaken your position if you blink. Maintain a facial expression of extreme calm. An angry scowl or a tensed body lets your opponent know that he/she is not getting to you. The opponent is likely to back down from the confrontation if he/she repeatedly breaks eye contact by looking downward or stops making eye contact with you entirely.
Now that you know the basics, make it work for you in relationships, friendships and business meetings; we may or not have been aware of it but it has been taking place around us nonetheless any time two people talk to each other for whatever reasons.
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