The Eyes Have It

I’ve been taking a particular interest recently in how well we recognise people and still communicate when we’re wearing masks.

I was served in a shop yesterday by a woman wearing a mask covering the entire lower part of her face. I was fascinated because she looked just like another person I know. I said to my wife… “She has the same eyes as Jane.” My wife looked and agreed.

Then walking through a shopping centre I recognised 2 people wearing masks when all I could see was the top third of their head.

I became curious and started looking in more detail.

I realised I could tell (or thought I could tell) who was smiling, who was angry or annoyed and who had essentially no expression at all. Now I’m the first to admit, I cannot be sure, but nevertheless, I made a judgement.

We all know the good old “eye contact”. It’s actually way more than that.

Together with the movement and angle of the head, the eyebrows convey so much. The forehead and skin expressions such as frown lines around the eyes cause us to make instant judgements.

It’s really important to keep in mind that all of the following goes with the head, eyebrows and forehead. The eyes cannot be taken in total isolation.

Simply looking, staring and blinking all contribute to the non-verbal communication package we present to the world when we speak. Julie Bishop’s famous death stare comes to mind.

In very basic terms, maintaining eye communication is usually taken as trust. Constantly breaking eye contact often indicates a lack of trust or deception.

Blinking increases when there’s a positive reaction and the pupils dilate. The world of NLP
(Neuro Linguistic Programming) breaks the position of the pupils into 6 distinct cues. And
we’ve all heard people say that people “smile with their eyes”.

There’s also some fascinating research by A. McCarthy and K. Lee about children’s lying behaviour and their gaze.

Well, so what?

The “so what” is that “the eyes really do have it.”

But they don’t have it all. Try this…

Cover your eyes and everything below so only the angle of your head, your eyebrows and forehead are visible.

Put on various emotions and see if a person looking at you can tell what you’re portraying behind the mask. Try it with partners, friends, acquaintances and colleagues. The results may surprise you.

I’m intrigued to find out what you discovered

#eyecontact #davidjulianprice #nonverbalcommunication #NLP

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