Why is eye contact when communicating important? It's one of the four key problems children have when it comes to creating a good first impression, at least here in the UK.
What does it mean to have good eye contact?
It means looking someone straight in the eye when you are talking to them. Ninety-nine percent of the time they are looking down, they do not introduce themselves, they give a half-hearted handshake and start mumbling.
By the end of the tutorial, they are looking at you straight in the eyes, smiling, introducing themselves confidently, whilst offering a firm handshake. You can see how happy and pleased they are with themselves. The children need to practise also at home; meeting and greeting at least one of their parents every morning, every day after school, and in the evening. The 3 main things to look out for: a genuine smile, good eye contact and a firm handshake.
The first question children ask me is 'Where should I look?'
The best way to avoid staring at people is by looking in the space between the eyes, nose and mouth, not at the ground or your surroundings. And always remember to blink. It all may seem a bit weird at first, but it is the best way to show people you are friendly and it also lets others know you are listening to everything they are saying. Also when meeting people if you are looking at the ground you may be perceived as shy and lacking in confidence.
However, some cultures are much less eye-oriented than others. In China, for instance, when speaking with adults, children will avoid such direct eye contact out of respect. In Japan, Korea and Thailand, prolonged direct eye contact is considered impolite and even intimidating.