One of the most precious gifts we can give a person is to ‘be present’ to them. What do I mean by that? I mean that when we are having a conversation with a person we need to ‘show’ them that we are listening. Showing we are present to a person validates, honours and respects them.
As humans we are a highly visual species. Much of our brain’s visual processing is connected with meaning making, memory and emotions. And all this happens before it comes to conscious attention. So to engage a person and to demonstrate that you are interested and engaged – look at them and smile (or at least, don’t frown!)
I know it sounds obvious but so often these days we are distracted by TV, cell phones, tasks at work and just being busy with life; it’s not unusual for two people to hold a conversation and never really look at each other, even in social situations. One British scientist found that we may only look at each other on average 30-60% of the time we’re talking. This is why in Neuro-Semantics Meta-Coaching, one of the benchmarks for ‘listening’ is the percentage of time spent actually looking at the client.
Huge amounts of research demonstrate the value of eye contact. From creating a powerful bond between mother and child to the effects that if strangers stare into each other’s eyes for just two minutes they are more likely to fall in love! It’s to do with the fact that staring into a person’s eyes makes them (and you) produce phenylethylamine, a neurotransmitter that makes us feel in love.
So the next time you are speaking with, and especially when listening to someone – look at them. Make the conscious effort to do this. I’m not suggesting that you gaze longingly and silently into someone’s eyes, just that you make eye contact when you are speaking to them, or they are speaking to you. Try it with shop assistants and notice how the service they give you improves. Try it with your colleagues at work and notice how much more friendly and personable the atmosphere becomes. And especially try it with your partners… and notice how you get that ‘spark’ back into your life.
So one big secret of great relationships of any kind is; It’s all in the eyes! …so in the famous words of Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca “here’s looking at you, kid”