Have you ever had a conversation with someone with their eyes fixed over your shoulder? You turn to see what they’re so curious about to realize that they’re staring at nothing? Not the worst experience if your eyes reconnect and they’re the ones doing the talking. Worse, if over the course of the conversation someone breaks eye contact to check their phone.
In the first days of their lives, babies, with their blurred vision, will instinctively lock eyes with those around them. Also people who are less likely to give or receive eye contact are more likely to develop depression and feelings of isolation. So for the mental health of yourself and those you’re engaging with, lock eyes.
“Eye contact,” says Enid Montague, professor at Northwestern University, “is a really good surrogate for where attention is and the level of accord building in a relationship.” Meaning: Use your eyes to show someone your respect and interest. Eye contact makes us more social, more empathic, more likeable and trustworthy, allows us to make sense of relationships and helps us recognize people.
More than this, eyes are a good way to pick up on someone’s mood. A person’s face might be blank, but their eyes might be fuming. Their mouth might be smiling, but their eyes might be sad. Eyes give our game away, hence why professional poker players tend to choose sunglasses as a tactic of choice.