Try this exercise. The next time you’re walking down the street, try and make eye contact with everyone you pass. It’s a great study in human nature. Chances are, the majority of people will either not see you, or will glance at you, then quickly glance away. Those who do maintain eye contact with you will very often smile at you as they pass.

Most of us are aware of the importance of eye contact in making connections with the people around us. And yet for some reason, most of us don’t really do it nearly as often as we should. The degree to which you make eye contact with people plays a huge role in how you are perceived. It conveys confidence and interest, and lets the other person know that you are engaged in the conversation. Avoidance of eye contact also sends messages – bad ones. If you fail to make eye contact, people can perceive you as unsure, disengaged or even dishonest.

Good eye contact isn’t a ‘who blinks first’ contest, of course. You don’t want to overdo it and unnerve people. But during a conversation it should be frequent, and the duration should be a full three seconds each time.

Your skill in using eye contact is a remarkably powerful tool in building both business and personal relationships. Practice with the people around you. See for yourself the difference it makes in how others respond to you. You may be quite pleasantly surprised at the results.

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