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Nonverbal Communication

Why Eye Contact Is Considered A Skill

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Eye contact is a social signal that's an important component of communication.
Humans naturally respond to eye contact and it has communication significance in every culture. The most basic effect of eye contact is that it shows that you are engaged with a conversation. People typically interpret the direction of your gaze as the direction of your attention. In the midst of conversation, glancing down or off into the distance is often interpreted as a signal that you're thinking.
People commonly describe a sense that they can read a person's thoughts or character by looking in their eyes. As such, avoiding eye contact is sometimes interpreted as an attempt to hide something. However, avoiding eye contact is also a signal that you don't feel like talking. For example, someone who is late for a meeting might avoid eye contact as they walk down a hallway to avoid initiating a conversation.
In crowded conditions such as trains, people may pretend to look at something such as a mobile device as a means of avoiding eye contact. This is a way to maintain a sense of privacy and personal space.
Overview: Eye Contact
Using eye contact to send social signals and to communicate.
Showing that you're listening.
Expressing things such as emotions non-verbally.
Building rapport.
Related Concepts
Next: Body Language
More about non-verbal communication:
Active Silence
Body Language
Civil Inattention
Social Cues
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