Every one of us will have experienced that moment when you are either on a train, walking down the street or in the supermarket where you will have made eye contact with a complete stranger. At that moment, the two of you share something, not necessarily something positive or negative but just something.
The London underground is normally a place where a person will go great lengths to not look at, be near or touch another person. Yet, when something happens, which is so out of the ordinary, people are compelled to share their emotions. Eye contact is made, small smiles or giggles are shared. A bond is formed, until it is your stop, where you get off and then the bond is gone. You will never see that person again. It is the most simple of acts, looking at another person, but is opens up a part or the whole of the individual. It can make you feel warm and happy, but equally, with the addition of a slight frown, a stare can run your blood cold. In films and TV, a stereotypical fight between two random men is so often started with the line; “what you looking at?” Either way, a simple look can connect two people with a strength that is certainly under appreciated.
Eye contact is not just something that can connect two strangers; eye contact can help form the basis for a romantic relationship. Rom-com movies are stuffed full of lingering scenes where the lead characters gaze lovingly at each other. As, the old English proverb says: “The eyes are the window of the soul”. Eye contact is also incredibly important in the world of commerce as well. It demonstrates your confidence, understanding and the fact that you are listening. Eye-contact could be the key between you making a sale or securing a deal or not. Conversely, if someone is trying to hide themselves, they often wait a pair of shades, as the eyes give the most information away. So, if you spot a friend in a pair of Ray Ban or Oakley sunglasses in the morning or on an overcast day, you know it’s likely they have something to hide!
It is the fact that eye contact connects you to another person which makes it such an important action. Civilisations all over the world have been built by us, working together. This would have been impossible without the skill of communication – the back bone of communication is recognising another person, this is started by making eye contact. It is from this base that language, society and families have been developed.
So next time you are walking down the street and you happens to make eye contact with a happy face walking toward you, don’t shy away so quickly. As Rick’s immortal line from Casablanca so brilliantly put it; “Here’s looking at you kid”.