Your SlideShare is downloading. ×
The art-of-handshake-and-eye-contact-in-business
The art-of-handshake-and-eye-contact-in-business
The art-of-handshake-and-eye-contact-in-business
The art-of-handshake-and-eye-contact-in-business
The art-of-handshake-and-eye-contact-in-business
The art-of-handshake-and-eye-contact-in-business
The art-of-handshake-and-eye-contact-in-business
The art-of-handshake-and-eye-contact-in-business
The art-of-handshake-and-eye-contact-in-business
The art-of-handshake-and-eye-contact-in-business
The art-of-handshake-and-eye-contact-in-business
The art-of-handshake-and-eye-contact-in-business
The art-of-handshake-and-eye-contact-in-business
The art-of-handshake-and-eye-contact-in-business
The art-of-handshake-and-eye-contact-in-business
The art-of-handshake-and-eye-contact-in-business
The art-of-handshake-and-eye-contact-in-business
The art-of-handshake-and-eye-contact-in-business
The art-of-handshake-and-eye-contact-in-business
The art-of-handshake-and-eye-contact-in-business
The art-of-handshake-and-eye-contact-in-business
The art-of-handshake-and-eye-contact-in-business
The art-of-handshake-and-eye-contact-in-business
The art-of-handshake-and-eye-contact-in-business
The art-of-handshake-and-eye-contact-in-business
The art-of-handshake-and-eye-contact-in-business
The art-of-handshake-and-eye-contact-in-business
The art-of-handshake-and-eye-contact-in-business
The art-of-handshake-and-eye-contact-in-business
The art-of-handshake-and-eye-contact-in-business
The art-of-handshake-and-eye-contact-in-business
The art-of-handshake-and-eye-contact-in-business
The art-of-handshake-and-eye-contact-in-business
The art-of-handshake-and-eye-contact-in-business
The art-of-handshake-and-eye-contact-in-business
The art-of-handshake-and-eye-contact-in-business
The art-of-handshake-and-eye-contact-in-business
The art-of-handshake-and-eye-contact-in-business
The art-of-handshake-and-eye-contact-in-business
The art-of-handshake-and-eye-contact-in-business
The art-of-handshake-and-eye-contact-in-business
The art-of-handshake-and-eye-contact-in-business
The art-of-handshake-and-eye-contact-in-business
The art-of-handshake-and-eye-contact-in-business
The art-of-handshake-and-eye-contact-in-business
The art-of-handshake-and-eye-contact-in-business
The art-of-handshake-and-eye-contact-in-business
The art-of-handshake-and-eye-contact-in-business
The art-of-handshake-and-eye-contact-in-business
The art-of-handshake-and-eye-contact-in-business
The art-of-handshake-and-eye-contact-in-business
The art-of-handshake-and-eye-contact-in-business
The art-of-handshake-and-eye-contact-in-business
The art-of-handshake-and-eye-contact-in-business
The art-of-handshake-and-eye-contact-in-business
The art-of-handshake-and-eye-contact-in-business
The art-of-handshake-and-eye-contact-in-business
The art-of-handshake-and-eye-contact-in-business
The art-of-handshake-and-eye-contact-in-business
The art-of-handshake-and-eye-contact-in-business
The art-of-handshake-and-eye-contact-in-business
The art-of-handshake-and-eye-contact-in-business
The art-of-handshake-and-eye-contact-in-business
The art-of-handshake-and-eye-contact-in-business
The art-of-handshake-and-eye-contact-in-business
The art-of-handshake-and-eye-contact-in-business
The art-of-handshake-and-eye-contact-in-business
The art-of-handshake-and-eye-contact-in-business
The art-of-handshake-and-eye-contact-in-business
The art-of-handshake-and-eye-contact-in-business
The art-of-handshake-and-eye-contact-in-business
The art-of-handshake-and-eye-contact-in-business
Upcoming SlideShare
Loading in...5
×

Thanks for flagging this SlideShare!

Oops! An error has occurred.

×
Saving this for later? Get the SlideShare app to save on your phone or tablet. Read anywhere, anytime – even offline.
Text the download link to your phone
Standard text messaging rates apply

The art-of-handshake-and-eye-contact-in-business

6,233

Published on

Statistics show that only about 7% of the emotional meaning in a message is composed of the actual words we use. About 38% in communication is through the tone of our voice and 55 % comes through …

Statistics show that only about 7% of the emotional meaning in a message is composed of the actual words we use. About 38% in communication is through the tone of our voice and 55 % comes through nonverbal communication, which includes facial expressions, gestures and posture. Handshakes and a proper eye contact are part of that 55%

0 Comments
1 Like
Statistics
Notes
  • Be the first to comment

No Downloads
Views
Total Views
6,233
On Slideshare
0
From Embeds
0
Number of Embeds
0
Actions
Shares
0
Downloads
79
Comments
0
Likes
1
Embeds 0
No embeds

Report content
Flagged as inappropriate Flag as inappropriate
Flag as inappropriate

Select your reason for flagging this presentation as inappropriate.

Cancel
No notes for slide

Transcript

  • 1. The Art In A Hand Shake And Proper Eye Contact in Business PART 1: HANDSHAKES Introduction Importance of a Strong Handshake in the Workplace How to Have an Effective Handshake How to Master the Business Handshake How to Have a Persuasive Handshake Handshakes & Introductions What Does Your Handshake Say About You? A bow, a kiss or a handshake: how to greet overseas business contacts Gracious Greetings Between Cultures Business Etiquette: 10 Tips on How to Shake Hands With Confidence Business Etiquette Tips - The Art of the Business Handshake When and When Not to Shake Hands Business Etiquettes: Handshakes Handshakes from Around the World Handshake Etiquette The cultural implications of shaking hands Interesting Greeting Customs of Different Countries Your handshake around the world PART 2: EYE CONTACT 3 Etiquette Rules You Should Know About Eye Contact Business Etiquette on Eye Contact The Importance of Eye Contact Why Eye Contact Is Vitally Important for Creating Positive Connections with Others Why Is It So Hard to Make Eye Contact? The Best Way to Improve the Quality of Your Eye Contact How to Make Eye Contact the Right Way in Life, Business, and Love The Power Of Eye Contact: It's A Myth Office Behavior: Eye Contact Is Overrated The Role of Eye Contact in Different Cultures To Look or Not To Look? : Eye Contact Differences in Different Cultures Eye Contact in Various Countries Business and Social Etiquette - How to Make Eye Contact 1
  • 2. PART 1: HANDSHAKES Introduction Statistics show that only about 7% of the emotional meaning in a message is composed of the actual words we use. About 38% in communication is through the tone of our voice and 55 % comes through nonverbal communication, which includes facial expressions, gestures and posture. Handshakes and a proper eye contact are part of that 55% Nonverbal language is a vital part of the communication process. Body language that is consistent and congruent with the verbal message you are communicating builds trust and rapport. The Handshake Most of the time, the handshake is the only physical contact allowed in a business relationship. We often allow impressions based on the handshake to determine the future of a business relationship. Handshakes begin when we make eye contact, once eye contact is made the hand is extended. If you wait for someone else to initiate the handshake, you risk being perceived as timid or unsure of yourself. Exception: when you are visiting someone else’s office or environment. If they don’t offer one, hold out your hand. Next, meet the person’s grip web to web and palm to palm and match pressure.. If you receive a firm handshake, match the pressure, same with a light handshake. Shake hands firmly, with only one squeeze. Count 1,2,3, then drop. Don’t sandwich the other’s person hand between both of yours, it suggest you are trying to overpower. Don’t bone crush, glad hand, or wimp out with a two-knuckle finger wiggle, the kind of handshake that only includes half of the hand. Treat men and women with equal respect. It is as appropriate for a man to offer his hand to a woman as it is for as to offer first. Eye Contact The eyes are the window of the soul. Eye contact is one of the most powerful ways to establish trust. Effective use of eye contact helps us exhibit confidence s a speaker and respect as a listener. Eye contact should be held while people are speaking to demonstrate respect and interest. Some Asian cultures believe the opposite, the eye contact is a show of disrespect. 2
  • 3. If you lose eye contact or focus on everything else but the person you are speaking to, you may not be taken seriously and the truth in your points may be lost. Failing to maintain eye contact during a conversation can send mixed signals to the person you are speaking with. It is often construed as a tell-tale-sign that you might not be forthcoming or truthful in what you are saying—liars tend to not keep eye contact. If the lack of eye contact is not construed as a lie the person may be trying to conceal, it is often perceived as lack of interest or an indication of a short attention span. Business Body Language: Handshakes, Eye Contact, Posture, and Smiles Your body language, i.e your demeanor, impacts your success. It's vital that you know how to act when you get to a conference, after-hours, meeting or trade show to make the most effective and efficient use of your time ... and to attract those people whom you want to do with business with and add to your network. The success of any encounter begins the moment someone lays eyes on you. One of the first things they notice about you is your aura, that distinctive atmosphere that surrounds you. You create it, and you are responsible for what it says about you and whom it attracts. Your aura enters with you and starts speaking long before your open your mouth. Since body language conveys more than half of any message in any face-to-face encounter, how you act is vital to your aura. 1) Posture One of the first key things people notice is how you carry and present yourself. Do you walk and stand with confidence like your mother taught you? • • • • Stomach in Chest out Shoulders back Head up Or do you slouch, perhaps with your shoulders drooping, your head forward and your stomach protruding? Are you saying to people that you are not sure of yourself, are not poised and, therefore, not the one they should seek out and get to know? You may be turning people away without even being aware of it. Command respect by standing tall and claiming the space to which you are entitled. Plant your feet about six to eight inches apart with one slightly in front of the others. My workshop attendees always remark about how this positioning makes them feel "grounded," "rooted" and "balanced" ... great ways to start any encounter! 3
  • 4. You also tell people through your posture if you are want others to approach you. For instance, if you are talking with one other person and the two of you are forming a rectangle, you will give the message that you have "closed off" your space and don't want to be interrupted. If you doubt me, stand by two people who are in the rectangular position and see how long you go unacknowledged. The two will see you out of their peripheral vision, but won't include you until they have finished their "private" conversation. If, on the other hand, the two of you stand with your feet pointed outward like two sides of an incomplete triangle, you will be inviting others into the conversation. You can make that all-important eye contact. 2) Handshakes Another vital component you need to bring to any interpersonal encounter is a firm handshake. Again, those few seconds you "shake" can empower or weaken a relationship. Men's handshakes are typically strong and firm because they naturally have a stronger grip. Women, get a grip and be noticed! I once got a client because the man I shook hands with remarked about my strong handshake and asked what I did. He decided it was time to hire me to teach his people how to shake hands, too! Being familiar with the following handshakes will help you immensely in your relationshipbuilding activities: Controller A person extends his hand to you, web-to-web, and as soon as your hands are linked, he purposely maneuvers his hand onto the top. He's telling you he wants to be in charge. Keep that in mind as the interaction continues. Sandwich Use this one only with people you know. When you envelop another person's hands, you are invading their private space ... where you are to be only when invited. Society promotes the standard handshake but is not as tolerant of using both hands. By the way, this handshake is also known as the politician's handshake ... which may be cause enough for most people to avoid it! Dead Fish Imagine rubbing a scaly, dead fish in your hands ... and you got the picture. Your hands typically are wet for two reasons: You are nervous or you have been holding a cold beverage in your right hand and move it to your left just before you shake hands. In either case, it is extremely unpleasant for the receiver. If you experience anxiety, wipe your hands on a napkin, the tablecloth or even lightly on your clothes. What you spend at the dry cleaners will be paid for quickly by the better impression you make. As for the beverage, use common sense. 4
  • 5. Limp Fingers Women, far more than men, extend their fingers rather than their entire hand. It can be painful for the extender, when she is greeted by a man who shakes with his forceful grip. Men tell me this frequently leads to their giving women a lighter handshake. Professional women respond that they want to be treated equally. One of the ways to combat this syndrome is to always extend you full hand (never cup it) horizontally, even if your grip is light. Ingredients of a Good Handshake • • • • Hold the person's hand firmly. Shake web-to-web, three times maximum. Maintain constant eye contact. Radiate positive aura. 3) Eye Contact Make it and keep it! Not only does focused eye contact display confidence on your part, it also helps you understand what the other person is really saying verbally. When the eyes say one thing, and the tongue another, a practiced man relies on the language of the first. - Ralph Waldo Emerson Looking someone in the eye as you meet and talk with him/her also shows you are paying attention. Listening is the most important human relations skill, and good eye contact plays a large part in conveying our interest in others. When to look Begin as soon as you engage someone in a conversation. However, you may wish to start even earlier if you are trying to get someone's attention. Continue it throughout the conversation. Be sure to maintain direct eye contact as you are saying "good-bye." It will help leave a positive, powerful lasting impression. Where to look Imagine an inverted triangle in your face with the base of it just above your eyes. The other two sides descend from it and come to a point between your nose and your lips. That's the suggested area to "look at" during business conversations. Socially, the point of the triangle drops to include the chin and neck areas. When people look you "up and down," it's probably more than business or a casual social situation they have in mind! How long to look 5
  • 6. I suggest about 80 - 90 percent of the time. Less than that can be interpreted as discomfort, evasiveness, lack of confidence or boredom. When you stare longer, it can be construed as being too direct, dominant or forceful and make the other person uncomfortable. It's okay to glance down occasionally as long as your gaze returns quickly to the other person. Avoid looking over the other person's shoulders as if you were seeking out someone more interesting to talk with. 4) Smiles Smiles are an important facial expression. They show interest, excitement, empathy, concern; they create an upbeat, positive environment. Smiles can, however, be overused. Often, men smile when they are pleased; women smile to please. You know which is the most powerful! To gain and increase respect, first establish your presence in a room, then smile. It is far more professional than to enter a room giggling or "all smiles." Importance of a Strong Handshake in the Workplace The optimal business handshake strikes a balance between a forceful grip and a limp noodle. The extended hand should fully engage with the other person's hand for the most impact. Weak handshakes that only grip fingertips may make a negative impression on a new business contact, co-worker or customer. Likewise, a vice-grip-style handshake presents an overly aggressive stance. How you shake hands provides subtle nonverbal cues about your personality, business style and negotiating techniques. First Impression You never get a second chance at a first impression in business. A strong handshake sets the tone and the perception of your abilities. Impart a strong first impression on customers, business prospects, hiring managers or new employees by offering your hand and looking them in the eye when offering a greeting or introducing yourself. This type of introduction bolsters your image and sets a solid foundation for a new job or business relationship. Trust A firm, strong handshake transmits your underlying confidence in yourself and your abilities. When individuals feel your confidence, it helps instill trust in your words and work abilities. Working from a foundation of trust is important to advance sales opportunities, gain employment, attract competent employees and obtain business partners. 6
  • 7. Negotiations You can take the upper hand at negotiations by confirming your strength through your handshake. A strong grip and a penetrating eye gaze set the tone for hard-line negotiations. You also signal your willingness to compromise or reach a mutually beneficial agreement through a strong yet warm handshake. Setting the negotiating tone with your first interactions help you obtain the best deal for yourself, your client or your business with your first interactions. Connection Literally, a handshake offers a personal connection with another person. Even in impersonal situations, a strong handshake helps convey your personality and intentions to another person. For example, you can express empathy by shaking hands and placing your opposite hand on a shoulder or on the opposite side of an extended hand. These little touches allow you to show your empathy in a dignified and professional manner. Showing empathy may be needed with professional contacts going through a difficult personal situation Self-Promotion A strong handshake may help you land a job, gain a promotion or score a lucrative client. The right touch allows you to indicate your self-motivation, desire to achieve and assertiveness. These assets translate well to most workplaces. Subtly presenting your assets through nonverbal cues helps support claims on your resume, your business accomplishments and conversations. 7
  • 8. How to Have an Effective Handshake For those cultures that value the handshake, much meaning is transferred by the manner in which you proffer your hand and the method with which you shake the other person's hand. Some people make instant judgments about your character as a result of your handshake, so it pays to make sure it's conveying what you want it to. Steps 1 Know when to use your handshake. The appropriate times to shake another person's hand include: o o o o 2 8 When you are introduced to someone When you say goodbye to someone At the beginning or the end of a business, social, church, or other meeting Whenever it seems appropriate within a business context, such as sealing a deal.
  • 9. Be the first to extend your hand. This makes a strong, lasting impression on the person at the receiving end. It is also about control; by offering your hand first, you are leading the way. This applies to both men and women; don't shy away for reasons of being coy or putting yourself down. o The only time that you should not seek to be so affable as to offer to shake first is where there is an authority structure in place that should be adhered to. For example, if there is a more senior or higher-ranked person in a social gathering, work or business context, follow the lead of the higher ranked person (President, Governor-General, CEO etc.). 3 Extend your right hand straight before the handshake. Do not have your palm facing either up or down; the palm should meet with the palm of the other person. o 4 9 The exception to using the right hand is if you don't have one, if it is paralyzed or otherwise seriously injured.
  • 10. Take the other person's hand in a firm but not rock-hard clasp. Make sure that the web located between your thumb and fingers meets the web of the other person's hand. 5 Keep your hand perpendicular to the ground. Do not roll it sideways for the handshake. 6 Shake firm once, or at the most, twice. Avoid pumping; more shakes than two becomes annoying and distracting from the purpose of the greeting. o 10 Don't linger for too long. According to Wikipedia, a normal handshake lasts about 5 seconds. If you hold someone's hand too long, it can become an embarrassing social faux pas.
  • 11. 7 When giving the handshake, make eye contact and state your usual greetings. Convey confidence in both your handshake and stance. Tips • • • • 11 Make sure your hands aren't sweaty or dirty. o Rub your overly-sweaty palms against your pant-leg and/or shirt, or on a handkerchief or tissue. However, be warned that excess of this sweaty-hand disposal technique may cause an embarrassing stain. o Wash your hands. Nobody wants to shake hands with you if your hands are covered in anything dirty. Interpret handshakes as follows: o A violent shake or squeeze will have people thinking you're aggressive. o A limp handshake will have people thinking you're weak. o Too much pumping/shaking will have people thinking you're clingy or pushy. If you are shaking hands with an older person, don't grip their hand so hard. Be polite if the other person won't let go. Don't grimace or try to break free; it's rude to disengage before the long-winded shaker has finished; just put up with it politely! Be patient and wait for a natural cue of letting go and gracefully but quickly untangle your hand and return it to your side.
  • 12. Warnings • • • Don't shake too firmly; some people have fragile or feeble hands. Avoid floppy handshakes. A floppy handshake is not only an indicator that you lack interest or substance; it also shows a lack of confidence. Don't force a handshake on someone who looks terrified by it or who declines it. Handshaking may be culturally inappropriate for them, or it may even bother them for some reason. Don't trespass on them; just smile and nod as an acknowledgment How to Master the Business Handshake What is a proper handshake? In a business situation, you’re expected to offer a firm handshake to your business associate or client. A firm handshake with good eye contact communicates selfconfidence. Handshaking is a form of nonverbal communication that says a lot about a person. For example, an overpowering handshake can indicate dominance or control. A weak handshake can indicate insecurity, disinterest, shyness, and aloofness. An awkward handshake indicates nervousness or a lack of social skills, which in turn reflects on credibility. An appropriate handshake begins with the introduction: 1. Extend your right hand and grip the other person’s hand. Make sure that both hands are pushed all the way in to meet web-to-web and your thumbs are facing straight up. 12
  • 13. 1. Shake just a couple of times in a vertical motion. The range of motion is 2 or 3 inches. The motion is extended from the shoulder, through the elbow, and straight through to your hand. 2. End the handshake cleanly, before the introduction is over. If you want to count, a good handshake is held for 3 or 4 seconds. When someone makes an introduction, always remember to stand so that you can shake hands at an even level. This rule applies to both men and women. If you happen to be seated at a table where reaching the other person is difficult or awkward, however, you don't have to stand. If you tend to have cold hands, stick your right hand in your pocket to warm it up as you approach a hand-shaking situation. And if you have perennially clammy hands, try the high school promdate approach: Quickly swipe your right hand on your skirt or trousers so that when you present your hand, it's dry. You can do so quickly and gracefully, and no one will know. If you're prone to really sweaty palms, and you have the time to plan ahead, try rubbing a sanitizer with alcohol or antiperspirant (non-sticky and unscented!) on your hands before leaving the house and meeting someone. 13
  • 14. How to Have a Persuasive Handshake A handshake is a very common way for people to greet each other for the first time. By following the steps in this article, you'll learn how to shake hands in a way that makes the other person more receptive to your ideas, which can be tremendously useful in both work and social situations. Steps 1 Dominate the handshake by placing your hand on top. When you shake hands with somebody you wish to influence, your palm should be facing the floor when you shake their hand. This makes the person subconsciously feel submissive and therefore will make them very easy to persuade later on in the interaction. If someone does this to you, step to their side; loosening their grip. This forces them to turn towards you. This will give you an opportunity to pivot your hand so you can put yours on top. o 14
  • 15. 2 Form a personal connection with the hand clasp. This is better for sales and social situations than business situations. When you shake hands, take your other hand (your left hand) and use it to cover the back of the person's hand you are shaking. This reinforces an emotional connection and is appropriate when you want to establish rapport and show sympathy or integrity. Note that when men do this, especially in a dating context, it can appear too overbearing. Instead, place two fingers on the back of the person's hand for a brief two to three seconds (or the duration of the hand shake). A lighter grip with this handshake is best as it is intended to provoke a sense of safety and protection rather than invoke fear. o 3 Grasp the person's elbow for greater influence. If you pay attention, you will see many powerful politicians doing this when campaigning. While you are shaking hands, take your left hand and lightly grasp the person's elbow for about two to three seconds. This is a subliminal method of forcing the situation in your favour. Also, the person placing their hand on the other's elbow appears to be genuine and have integrity to people observing the handshake. 4 Put your hand on their shoulder. While you are shaking hands with the person, put your left hand on their shoulder. Physically, that gives you great influence over their body, which also gives them permission to be emotionally vulnerable with you. This is a very common method for sealing deals in Arab countries. 15
  • 16. Handshakes & Introductions HANDSHAKES Handshakes are the only consistent physical contact we have in the business world. They also happen first in an encounter, so they set the tone for the entire relationship that follows. People make an immediate judgment about your character and level of confidence through your handshake. So take time to practice your handshake skills until you know you can perform them well. Offer your entire hand, moving into your partner’s until “web meets web” (the area between the thumb and forefinger). Grasp firmly, shake gently for 3-4 seconds (no pumping!) and then release. Don’t forget to make eye contact and add a smile. Be ready to offer your full name, even if you’ve met before. Don’t assume casual acquaintances will remember you, so give your name quickly and remind them where you met. Practice with someone and ask for his or her honest feedback. At all costs, avoid the “wet noodle”, “bone-crusher”, “fingers only” and two-handed shakes. They convey nothing but negative messages to others. When do you shake hands? Whenever you’re introduced to someone, when someone enters your office from the outside, when you leave an event attended by people from the outside and when you run into someone outside your office. A good rule of thumb – if you shook hands at the beginning, you should also shake when you say goodbye. INTRODUCTIONS There are two kinds of introductions: self-introductions and three-party introductions. When do you introduce yourself? When you recognize someone and he or she doesn’t recognize you, whenever you’re seated next to someone you don’t know, when the introducer doesn’t remember your name and when you’re the friend of a friend. Extend your hand, offer your first and last names and share something about yourself or the event you’re attending. Tip: In a self-introduction, never give yourself an honorific such as Mr., Ms., Dr., etc. In a three-person introduction, your role is to introduce two people to each other. In a business or business/social situation, one must take into consideration the rank of the people involved in order to show appropriate deference. Simply say first the name of the person who should be shown the greatest respect. And remember, gender doesn’t count in the business world; protocol is based upon rank. Senior employees outrank junior employees, customers or clients outrank every employee (even the CEO), and officials (Mayor, Senator, etc.) outrank non-officials. 16
  • 17. Begin with the superior’s name, add the introduction phrase, say the other person’s name and add some information about the second person. Then reverse the introduction by saying the second’s name, followed by the introduction phrase and the superior’s name and information. When a three-party intro is done correctly, the two people being introduced should be able to start some small talk based upon what you shared about each of them. Introductions should match, so if you know the first and last names of both people, say both. If you know only the first name of one person, say only the first names of both. If you add an honorific for one person, the other should also have one. Examples: “Mr. Brown, I’d like to introduce Ms. Ann Smith, who started yesterday in the mailroom. Ann, this is Douglas Brown, our CEO.” (Ann would be wise to call the CEO “Mr. Brown” right away and not assume she may call him by his first name. Always use the last names of superiors and clients until you are invited to do otherwise.) “Pete, I’d like to introduce to you Doug Brown, our CEO. Doug, I’d like you to meet, Pete Johnson, who’s considering our firm for his ad campaign.” Tip: Don’t say “I’d like to introduce you to..”, but rather “I’d like to introduce to you…” Tip: Always stand for an introduction. Social skills are important prerequisites to succeeding in business. Knowing how to shake hands and handle introductions can set you apart from the competition, convey confidence and project a professional image. Practice these simple skills and you will reap the benefits! What Does Your Handshake Say About You? United States Imagine you are meeting someone for the first time and the handshake begins. Instead of a firm grasp and a friendly smile, the person offers you a hand like a limp dish rag and won’t look you in the eye. What is your impression of this person? Your handshake expresses your personality and gives out a lot of information about you! People judge you by the way you shake hands. The handshake is a professional and friendly way of establishing human contact when greeting someone. In America, the handshake is our official greeting and we need to understand handshake etiquette. 17
  • 18. The handshake is the first touching that two people do, followed by direct eye contact and greeting where each person states their full name. In today’s business and social environments, men and women always shake hands when they are introduced and it is correct for a woman to offer her hand first or a man to offer his hand first – the idea of a man waiting for a woman to extend her hand first is outdated. In business, rather than gender being the deciding factor, the higher-ranking person or the person whose office it is should extend the hand first. If there is no clearly defined rank and you are meeting in a “neutral” place, then the person who extends their hand first has the “power” in that setting. So if you want to be “in charge”, then be the first to extend your hand! In social situations, women don’t have to shake hands if they don’t want to, but they should in business environments. A handshake is a gesture of courtesy. It should be firm enough to express warmth and strength, and as you shake hands, there must be eye contact. A good handshake generally lasts for three seconds. A longer one is similar to staring and could make people uncomfortable. People make an immediate judgment about your level of confidence and character through your handshake. In American culture, a good handshake shows confidence, openness and interest. When I ask people in my seminars what turns them off when they meet someone, many people complain of the limp handshake and no eye contact! The weak hand shaker comes across as someone who is passive and untrustworthy, and is depending on the other person for all the firmness and all the action. Given the unanimity of positive opinion regarding the firm and brief handshake, why do so many people persist in offering the “lifeless paw”? Take action if you have a weak handshake. Ask yourself, “Is this serving me well?” So what is the proper handshake? Do you shake hands with a firm or a wimpy grip? We all do it, but do we all do it well? Extend your hand out in front of you a good 18 inches with your thumb widely separated from your other fingers. When the other person takes your hand in the same way, keep your hand open until your thumbs can go no further. Then close your grip and shake firmly once up and down. It is the clasp that is important, not the shake. No one likes to shake hands with a “limp dish rag,” and it is equally annoying to have one’s hand clutched in an exaggerated manner or clutched vigorously. If you close your hand too soon, you will be squeezing fingers and pressing on the other person’s knuckle. If you shake limply, you feel awkward and unconnected. If you shake too firmly, it hurts the other person’s knuckles and fingers, especially if the person is wearing rings. If you have been injured or for some other reason cannot shake hands with your right hand, do not feel that you must offer an explanation or apologize for it. Simply offer your left hand. If you are seated when being introduced to someone it is always correct for men and women to stand and shake hands if the person standing is close enough. What do you do if someone doesn’t want to shake your hand that you just extended? Simply withdraw your hand and rely on a vocal greeting. Proceed as if nothing happened so that 18
  • 19. awkward moment slips away. What do you do if you don’t want to shake someone’s hand? Think of the consequences of your actions. In business, academic or professional settings it is proper etiquette and expected that you shake hands; if you don’t, nothing you say will offset the perception that you are unprofessional and rude. In social settings, if you don't care what people think, you could offer some gesture of salute and nod. Remember, your handshake will be one of the first physical contact another person shares with you, so it can help you make that all-important good first impression. Handshakes really do matter! A bow, a kiss or a handshake: how to greet overseas business contacts Customs and etiquette for meeting and greeting colleagues and counterparts from other cultures vary widely across the world. On the one hand, savvy business travellers find it useful to fit into other cultural situations. On the other, it's important to avoid cringeworthy displays of cultural insensitivity, no matter how well-intentioned. The trick is to know what to expect, but to be predictable yourself. It's unlikely that your Japanese business contacts will expect you to know the intricacies of bowing on your first visit. They'll be prepared for you to conduct yourself like a Western businessperson, not a Japanese one. If in doubt: shake hands the way you normally would. Unless you're familar with the cultural associations of other forms of greeting, you risk coming across somewhere between clueless and pandering. We've put together some specific pointers for countries and regions with a high presence of Australian business travellers. Japan Bowing is seen as a quintessential part of Japanese culture, and in many ways it is. The intricacies of interpersonal respect, however, are confusing to many business travellers. 19
  • 20. Follow your colleagues' lead, and consider settling for a handshake instead -- and in Japan, these tend to be lighter than a paw-cracking squeeze. China Expect handshakes in China to be lighter and longer than in the West, and remember that there are different cultural expectations about maintaining eye contact. Whereas in the West it's considered a bit shifty to drop eye contact, it comes across as aggressive in China to keep your eyes fixed on your counterpart. India Handshakes are common in corporate settings, especially in the major metropolises. Bowing is rare outside rural areas or particularly traditional settings. The Middle East and North Africa Handshakes in the Middle East are almost always longer than in the West, with a similar pressure to Western greetings. Follow the lead of your business counterpart in dropping the handshake, and generally avoid being the first person to drop pressure. Southern and Western Africa While South African business etiquette is similar to Australian practice, other countries have different norms. Expect a longer, lighter handshake using less energy, and don't be surprised by gestures like a finger snap as the hands part, especially in western African countries. South America Across most of Latin and South America, handshakes are lighter and longer than Australians might expect. Avoid being the person to pull away first unless the handshake has gone on forever, or you might come across as rude. 20
  • 21. France The French shake hands and often kiss cheeks as well. Entire doctoral theses have been written about how many kisses French people use to greet each other. It's between one and four, depending on where you are. (Here's a helpful map.) Take your counterpart's lead here. If she or he leans in for an air-kiss or two, follow suit. The same applies in much of the rest of the Francophone world, especially in French-speaking areas of Western Europe. Gracious Greetings Between Cultures When greeting someone, an American's first instinct is to stick out his or her hand, look directly at the other person, and smile. In some situations, this habit can mean making three mistakes at once. And the moment of greeting is when crucial first impressions are made. Methods and styles of greeting vary greatly around the world, and you need to know which practices apply in different circumstances. 21
  • 22. Faux Pas A handshake is not the universally approved greeting. Also, “Look 'em right in the eye” is not always the best advice. Live and Learn Same-sex hand holding, seen by some as a signal of a homosexual relationship, is a common gesture of friendship in many countries, particularly Mediterranean and Middle Eastern countries. • • • • • • • 22 When greeting Asians for the first time, do not initiate the handshake. You may be forcing a physical contact that the other person finds uncomfortable. Many Asians, particularly Japanese, have learned to accept the handshake when dealing with Westerners. Because the bow is the customary greeting in Japan, a slight bow of the head when responding to a proffered handshake is appropriate. Westerners generally are not expected to be familiar with the complex Japanese bowing protocols. Most Latinos are more accustomed to physical contact. Even people who know each other only slightly may embrace when greeting. Middle Easterners, particularly Muslims, avoid body contact with the opposite sex, but persons of the same sex commonly hug when greeting each other. When shaking hands, men should be careful not to pull their hand away too quickly. Orthodox Jews also avoid all physical contact with those of the opposite sex who are not family members. People from France, Spain, Italy, and Portugal greet friends by kissing on both cheeks. The smile is the near-universal gesture of friendliness, and in America its meaning is usually clear. The person smiling is happy, amused, and/or sending out a friendly signal. In other cultures the smile may be sending other signals. In some Latin cultures, for example, the smile may be used to say “Excuse me” or “Please.” If a person from another culture does not return your greeting smile, it doesn't indicate hostility or bad manners. In some Asian cultures, smiling is a gesture to be reserved for informal occasions, and smiling while being formally introduced would be considered disrespectful. In many cultures, avoiding eye contact is a sign of respect, but such behavior can lead to misunderstandings. For example, some Korean shopkeepers have been accused of disrespecting their non-Korean customers because the shopkeepers avoided making eye contact. The same sort of misunderstanding has occurred between American teachers and Asian students who do not look at the teacher while he or she is speaking.
  • 23. Business Etiquette: 10 Tips on How to Shake Hands With Confidence A handshake is more than just a greeting. It is also a message about your personality and confidence level. In business, a handshake is an important tool in making the right first impression. While the art of handshaking does vary within cultures, in the United States the “rules” are pretty universal. 1. Begin With an Oral Introduction of Yourself Before extending your hand, introduce yourself. Extending your hand should be part of an introduction, not a replacement for using your voice. Extending your hand without a voice greeting may make you appear nervous or overly aggressive. 2. Pump Your Hand Only 2-3 Times A business handshake should be brief and to the point. Consider a handshake a short “sound bite” greeting, not a lengthy engagement. Holding on for more than three or four seconds can make other people feel uncomfortable. 3. Shake From Your Elbow If you shake from the shoulder, using your upper arm instead of just your forearm, you risk jolting your handshake partner. The idea is to connect, not be overbearing. 4. Do Not Use a Forceful Grip A handshake should be a friendly or respectful gesture, not a show of physical strength. An uncomfortable handshake is never a pleasant experience for anyone. Imagine you are opening a door handle and use about the same level of grip in your handshake. 5. Avoid Offering a “Fish Hand” A limp hand is never a good idea when it comes to a business handshake. Do return the grip, but do not get into a power struggle, even if the other person squeezes too hard. 6. Forget “Lady Fingers” 23
  • 24. This is not a Southern Cotillion, this is business. Offering only your fingers to shake may be appropriate in some social settings, but in business settings you are an equal, not a “lady.” Extend your entire hand, and be sure to grasp using your entire hand as well. 7. One Hand is Better than Two Avoid the urge to handshake with two hands. It is always better in business introductions to use only one hand – your right hand – for the shake. The use of two hands with strangers is seen as intrusive, and too personal. In fact, a two-handed shake is called the “politician’s shake,” because it appears artificially friendly when used on people you barely know. 8. Shaking a Sweaty Hand If you shake hands with someone who has sweaty palms, do not immediately wipe your hands on your clothing, handkerchief, or tissue. This will further embarrass the other person, who is probably already aware they have sweaty hands. You can discretely wipe them on something after you are out of site, and wash them later. 9. Ending a Handshake End the handshake after 3-4 seconds, or 2-3 pumps. In order to avoid creating an awkward moment, your shake should end before the oral introduction exchange does. Without conversation taking place during the entire handshake, it becomes too intimate, and can feel more like hand holding. 10. Covering Your Mistakes Even if you make a mistake, do not panic. There are many ways to save the moment. If you are worried that your handshake did not convey the right message about yourself, simply change the focus of the moment by offering a quick compliment or asking the other person a question. 24
  • 25. Business Etiquette Tips - The Art of the Business Handshake When and When Not to Shake Hands; How to Shake Hands in Business Situations Knowing how to shake hands in a business setting is important, but so is knowing when, and when not to shake hands. Here are guidelines to help you put your best hand forward. When to Shake Hands in Business In the United States, the handshake is an accepted greeting in most social and business circumstances. When in doubt, do offer your hand, unless doing so would cause someone else to be embarrassed or inconvenienced. It is considered appropriate and acceptable to offer a handshake when greeting: • • • • • New business contacts, staff, coworkers, or others you are meeting for the first time; A former business or casual acquaintance, especially if it has been a while since you last saw them; Concluding a business transaction or meeting; Congratulating someone else for an award, event, or accomplishment; and When leaving a business event, including social settings where business contacts or acquaintances are involved. When Not to Shake Hands The first rule of thumb in handshaking is simple: Never offer your hand first, at any time, or in such a way, that makes the other person feel inconvenienced or uncomfortable. With this rule in mind, it is not a good idea to be the one to initiate a handshake: • • • • • 25 With someone of higher status (let them approach you or make the first gesture); To break an awkward moment of silence when being introduced to someone new (a proper handshake should also involve conversation); If you have nothing to say to the person (a handshake is an invitation for conversation or desire for social interaction); Someone whose right hand, arm, or shoulder, is clearly injured, or they need their hand to support their weight with a cane or crutches; or If the other person's hands are full and a handshake would require them to shift items from one hand to another, or to have to put things down.
  • 26. When and When Not to Shake Hands When to Shake Hands in Business In the United States, the handshake is an accepted greeting in most social and business circumstances. When in doubt, do offer your hand, unless doing so would cause someone else to be embarrassed or inconvenienced. It is considered appropriate and acceptable to offer a handshake when greeting: • • • • • New business contacts, staff, coworkers, or others you are meeting for the first time; A former business or casual acquaintance, especially if it has been a while since you last saw them; Concluding a business transaction or meeting; Congratulating someone else for an award, event, or accomplishment; and When leaving a business event, including social settings where business contacts or acquaintances are involved. When Not to Shake Hands The first rule of thumb in handshaking is simple: Never offer your hand first, at any time, or in such a way, that makes the other person feel inconvenienced or uncomfortable. With this rule in mind, it is not a good idea to be the one to initiate a handshake: • • • • • 26 With someone of higher status (let them approach you or make the first gesture); To break an awkward moment of silence when being introduced to someone new (a proper handshake should also involve conversation); If you have nothing to say to the person (a handshake is an invitation for conversation or desire for social interaction); Someone whose right hand, arm, or shoulder, is clearly injured, or they need their hand to support their weight with a cane or crutches; or If the other person's hands are full and a handshake would require them to shift items from one hand to another, or to have to put things down.
  • 27. Business Etiquettes: Handshakes Handshakes are the physical greetings that go along with your words. The handshake developed from greetings in the middle ages. In order to be sure that the person you were meeting was a friend and not an enemy, you checked him for weapons. You held your hand open and so did he; then you shook hands to indicate that you were a friend. Today, we use this same greeting ritual to check whether a new person is open, confident, sincere, and friendly. YOU ARE JUDGED BY YOUR HANDSHAKE • Do handshakes matter? YES, if you want to connect with others and make the best possible impression. • Far more than you may realize, we unconsciously judge others by their handshake. Also, handshaking is a form of non-verbal communication that says SO MUCH about a person. • An overpowering handshake indicates: dominance, control, egotism and a lack of trustworthiness. • A weak handshake indicates: insecurity, disinterest, secretiveness, shyness and aloofness. • An awkward handshake indicates: nervousness or a lack of social skills which in turn reflects on credibility. WHEN TO SHAKE HANDS • When meeting someone and when you say good-bye. • When renewing an acquaintance. • When someone enters your home or office. • Upon arrival when you are greeting a host, others you already know, and when being introduced to people. • When you meet someone you already know outside your work or home. • When ending a transaction or leaving a business or social event. COMPONENTS OF A GOOD HANDSHAKE ✓ INITIATION • Shake hands when you start to speak. • Lean forward ever so slightly. ✓ GRASP 27
  • 28. • Hold out your right hand, even if you are left-handed. The other person will do the same automatically. It works nearly every time! • Don't hold out your hand too soon or you will seem nervous. • If you wait too long, you will seem unfriendly. • Then you fit you hand into theirs, not too loose, not too tight. • Don't hold your fingers loose and limp, and don't just take their fingers into your hand. Hold their entire hand, fingers and palm all the way to where you thumbs meet and cross over each other. • Squeeze firmly, not too hard, and shake once or twice. • Then let go! That's it! A proper handshake is done from the elbow not the shoulder. You want to be relaxed enough and not too stiff. The handshake should be firm but not bone-crushing or limp. The handshake is held for 34 seconds. You want to avoid holding too long although in some cultures, such as the Middle East, they tend to hold longer. ✓ MOTION • Vigorous up and down movement is uncomfortable so don't distract the person you are meeting, bond with them. • A jerky motion is a sign of nervousness - don't give this information out, even if it's true. • 2 or 3 smooth up and downs are plenty. • The range of motion is 2 or 3 inches. • If you don't move your hand enough, you may appear to be distant, arrogant or passive. • If you move your hand too much, you may appear to be over-eager or nervous. THE SECOND HANDSHAKE • Don't pass up the opportunity to shake hands twice in every exchange. • Shaking hands when you meet is important, but a goodbye handshake is even more effective. Even if the conversation has been awkward or confrontational, a second handshake can communicate that you like the person. 28
  • 29. SPECIAL CONSIDERATION There are some situations in which shaking hands can be awkward. • Should you be introduced to someone when your hands are full, carrying files or other packages, don't try to rearrange everything. Simply nod your head as you respond to the introduction. • If you are having cocktails, hold your drink in your left hand while introductions are going around. Later on, you can switch to your right hand. You don't want to fumble with your drink or offer someone a wet or cold hand to shake! • If you are wearing gloves as part of formal attire, always remove them before shaking hands (the same goes for wearing gloves outdoors - you should take them off, unless it is bitterly cold weather). WHEN A PERSON SHAKES EASILY, THEY CREATE A FAVORABLE IMPRESSION. As an overall part of first impressions, handshakes are important because they are the accepted greeting for both men and women. In both business and social situations, you will need to feel very comfortable shaking hands. • A firm handshake with good eye contact shows self-confidence. • The handshake is one simple gesture that says not only, "I'm happy to make your acquaintance" but also "YOU interest ME more than anyone else at this moment." That's a very powerful message and one that shows respect. • Handshakes also reveal our basic attitude towards ourselves. When we offer a too-strong handshake we are sending the message that we think very highly of ourselves. The opposite is true of too-limp handshakes TIPS FOR THE PERFECT HANDSHAKE • If your hands tend to get clammy, try spraying them with anti-perspirant 24 hrs. ahead of time (to take effect). Blot with a cloth (not Kleenex, it sticks to your hands). This works well especially for an important meeting. • To avoid a wet/cold handshake, always hold your drink in your left hand. Remember that we shake with our...RIGHT hands. This way you won't shock anybody in conversation. 29
  • 30. COMMON HANDSHAKES LIMP/WIMPY COLD FISH - This says, you don't impress me and is frankly not an impressive first greeting. It's also quite boring. How do you correct it? I call it the web to web technique. When this happens to you, try doing a web to web with your hand, and to get the person to lean in gently glide their arm toward yours/pull/slide & release. THE BONE CRUSHER - Ouch! Don't hurt me! THE GRATITUDE HANDSHAKE - This is when someone shakes with two hands on top of yours, and is often used when a boss or a friend is perhaps trying to express his/ her gratitude for a job well done. It says "you've been wonderful" or "I am grateful for a job well done." THE SYMPATHY HANDSHAKE - This expresses deep concern over another's loss and says "I know what you're going through." This handshake is often followed by words and is deeply personal. Both hands are used but should only be used to express a condolence. THE PUMPER - This is done like you're pumping water from a well or like you're lifting weights at the gym. Who needs arm weights! s THE GRIPPER - This occurs when the person shaking your hand simply won't let go. RECAP Not shaking hands is a very clear form of rejection and is very insulting to the other person. IN America, it's expected that you will offer a firm (but not bone-crushing) handshake and that you will make eye contact. A firm handshake with good eye contact communicates respect and self-confidence. 30
  • 31. Handshaking is a form of nonverbal communication that says a lot about a person. For example: An overpowering handshake can indicate dominance or control. A weak handshake can indicate insecurity, disinterest, shyness, and aloofness. An awkward handshake indicates nervousness or a lack of social skills, which in turn reflects on credibility. If you're wearing a name tag, place it on your right shoulder, because that's where a person's eye KNOWING WHEN TO SHAKE HANDS The answer is, all the time. When in doubt, offer your hand. Shaking hands is appropriate when you're: • Renewing an acquaintance. • Acknowledging someone who enters your office, cubicle, or home. • Greeting a client, new coworker, host, or others you know or are meeting for the first time. • Meeting someone you already know outside work or home. • Concluding a transaction. • Leaving a business or social event. Handshakes from Around the World Handshaking is an ancient ritual. It is reported as long ago as 2800 B.C. in Egypt and it is speculated that because the right hand is the weapon hand, presenting it open and without a word came to be seen as a sign of peace and acceptance. Though archaic in origin, the handshake is still the accepted form of greeting in our society in modern times. As a business woman, you have probably practiced and mastered the typical “Canadian” handshake, an integral part of making a good first impression. But with the world coming to visit us in just a few weeks for the Winter Olympics, you may be wondering if this is a custom that all cultures share. Here in Vancouver, BC, we have been introduced to quite an assortment of cultures and probably have a good idea about how to greet business associates but as time goes by, customs tend to blend and definitely crossover into our every day practices. As a Vancouverite, you may be familiar with the term “namaste” that is commonly used by our popular yoga culture. It is a term that comes from India. The word "namaste" means literally, "I honor the spirit in you." 31
  • 32. When meeting someone in India, the word "namaste" is accompanied with the palms joined together as in prayer however, in a business setting, a senior person will typically initiate a handshake. While many greetings ‘look’ similar, a greeting’s favourable acceptance often lies in the subtleties of the interactions. Take your direction from your hosts or the person you are greeting. At business functions or social gatherings, follow your hosts’ lead as they will most likely set an example of appropriate behaviour for the situation. Pay special attention to handshake length and timing, eye contact, physical contact and body language such as bows, posture, eye contact and respect of personal space. To Kiss or not to Kiss? Light kisses on the cheek are customary in many European countries, with of course, the array of subtleties. In Belgium, it is expected that everyone in the group shake hands upon meeting and also when leaving a meeting. Kissing on the cheeks (usually three kisses on alternating cheeks) is also a common custom, even when meeting someone for the first time. This does not always happen in business situations, so wait for a cue from others. France and the United Kingdom practice a similar handshake to North America. A kiss on each cheek is a common gesture in France exchanged between family and friends upon greeting but not in a business setting unless very familiar with the person you are greeting. The French also like to keep you guessing about kissing. Depending on where you are in France will depend whether you kiss once, twice, three or four times! http://strangemaps.wordpress.com/2007/12/02/210-french-kissing-map It is taught in North America that a firm handshake expresses confidence and professionalism. While in South Africa it is also customary to shake hands at the beginning and end of a meeting, the handshakes are longer, more involved, and generally softer. In some countries such as Turkey or the Arabic-speaking Middle East, handshakes aren't as 'strong' as in North America and Europe. A grip which is too firm will be considered rude. In Switzerland, one should remember to shake the women’s hands first! Otherwise, shaking hands in order of rank is appropriate. Austrians greet each other with lots of handshaking, even with children. Men stand up to shake women’s hands, but a woman stays seated when the man shakes her hand. Physical contact is an important element of communication in Brazil, so don’t be alarmed or intimidated by this. As in most Latin cultures, a firm and enthusiastic handshake is customary among men, often followed by a slap on the shoulder or squeeze of the upper arm. When women meet they will normally kiss each other on the cheek (one kiss on the left cheek) and/or give a light hug. Men are also expected to greet women with a kiss, although Brazilians may forgo this with foreigners so as not to make the visitor feel uncomfortable. It is appropriate to greet business associates with a smile and a firm handshake in Australia. 32
  • 33. Frequent, direct eye contact is also important to maintain an atmosphere of trust. In Japan, greetings may be a handshake or a traditional Japanese bow. If greeted with a bow, observe the depth of the bow and reciprocate in a like manner, keeping eyes lowered and hands to the sides. Allow the Japanese to initiate the handshake, and expect it be less firm than most countries. The nod is a standard form of greeting in many Chinese cities however in most of the larger cities in China is a light handshake. Bowing is reserved for ceremonies. Some Chinese will look you in the eyes, while some will not. Lowering of the eyes is considered a sign of respect. Direct eye contact may be considered too personal or even rude. South Koreans have variable customs depending who initiates the greeting. Typically, a junior person will initiate a bow, while a senior person will initiate a handshake. It is a sign of respect to grasp the right arm with the left hand when shaking hands, but that’s it! Physical contact beyond this is reserved for family and friends. Tips to a Great Handshake 1. Begin with an Introduction of Yourself Before extending your hand, introduce yourself. Extending your hand should be part of an introduction, not a replacement for using your voice. Extending your hand without a voice greeting may make you appear nervous or overly aggressive. 2. Pump Your Hand Only 2-3 Times You’re not ‘priming the pump’ for water! A business handshake should be brief and to the point. 3. Shake From Your Elbow If you shake from the shoulder, using your whole arm, you risk jolting your handshake partner. The idea is to connect, not be overbearing. 4. Firm but not Forceful A handshake should be a friendly or respectful gesture, not a show of physical strength. 5. Avoid Offering a “Limp Fish” A limp hand is never a good idea when it comes to a business handshake. It can give the impression of lack of confidence or interest. 6. Forget “Lady Fingers” Offering only your fingers to shake may be appropriate in some social settings, but in business settings you are an equal, not “royalty”. Extend your entire hand, and be sure to grasp using your entire hand as well. 33
  • 34. 7. One Hand is Better than Two Avoid the urge to handshake with two hands. It is always better in business introductions to use only one hand – your right hand. The use of two hands with strangers can be seen as intrusive, and too personal. In fact, a two-handed shake is called the “politician’s shake,” because it appears artificially friendly when used on people you barely know. 8. Ending a Handshake End the handshake after 3-4 seconds, or 2-3 pumps. In order to avoid creating an awkward moment, your shake should end before the oral introduction exchange does. Without conversation taking place during the entire handshake, it becomes too intimate, and can feel more like hand holding. 9. Covering Your Mistakes Even if you make a mistake, do not panic. There are many ways to save the moment. If you are worried that your handshake did not convey the right message about yourself, simply change the focus of the moment by offering a quick compliment or asking the other person a question. Handshake Etiquette A Hand Extended As A Friendly Greeting Have you ever wondered about the origin of handshakes? You might be interested to know that the very nature of the handshake was originally intended to show oneself friendly. During the medieval times, when many of the men were covered in armor, the handshake was a manner of greeting used to show friendship. If one male extended an open hand to another this was understood to mean an extension of friendship and the gesture would be returned. Ofcourse the alternative would be a hand extended with an accompanying dagger or sword. Suffice it to say the handshake was a way to determine whether one was friend or foe. Handshake Basics The basic American handshake is very simple and most often used as a greeting between friends or new acquaintances. Here's how it is done: 1. The right hand is extended, thumb up and palm flat. 2. Grasp the other person's hand using a firm grip, palm on palm. 3. Hands are pumped two or three time in a vertical motion. 34
  • 35. 4. The grip is released. You can definitely practice extending great handshakes with your friends and family members so that you can determine what is comfortable for you and others. Trying it out on a friend is much easier than starting out with strangers. Handshake Types • • • • The Hand Hug: The "handhug" is a popular type of handshake often used by politicians. This shake which involves the covering of the clenched hand shake with the left hand, communicates warmth, friendship, trust and honesty. The Crusher: This painful handshake is a favorite shake of aggressive people. This shake is said to display confidence and power. Considered the favorite of those who are overly The Queen's Fingertips: This handshake greeting is most commonly observed in malefemale encounters. Usually the female presents her outstretched hand and the recipient grasps only a few digits of the right hand. The Please Keep Back: This handshake is usually extended when one of the parties is not too excited about the greeting. He or she may feel intruded upon or inconvenienced and the handshake will communicate the discomfort. Handshakes in Culture There are many alternatives to the everyday basic handshake. Many cultures have personalized the handshake for use within their community. Here are a few. • • • • • 35 The "jiveshake" or "black man's shake," is associated with African-American culture. This handshake is performed by each person clutching the base of the other person's thumb and often leaning in to bump opposite shoulders. This shake is also a familiar greeting amongst men in some Native American cultures. Members of the Boy Scouts of America use a left handed shake, referred to as the 'scout shake.'This was a convention started by Lord Baden-Powell. Tradition states that BadenPowell was impressed by a legend he heard while he was in West Africa. The story goes that two warring chiefs desiring peace, confronted one another. One chief dropped both his weapon and his shield. Not only was his right hand empty of a weapon leaving him unable to attack, but his left hand was left empty of a shield and he was thus unable to defend against the weapons of the other. Those who practice the sport of fencing traditionally shake using the non-sworded hand at the conclusion of their bout. Many secret societies, fraternities and sororities employ secret handshakes enabling them to identify initiated brothers and sisters. Some cultures have a habit of shaking both hands.
  • 36. • • • • • In Western culture, handshakes should be firm as weak handshakes are considered limp and cold. In European countries such as France and Italy, the norm is to shake hands every time you meet someone. In some Muslim countries (such as Turkey or the Arabic-speaking Middle East), a grip that is too firm is considered to be rude behavior. In China, not only are weak handshakes preferred, but the custom is to hold on for an extended time after the initial shake. In Turkey, the casual standard greeting is usually a kiss on the the cheek twice. In some cultures the handshake may be concluded by the open palm of the hand being placed on the heart As you greet others cross-culturally you should also remember that some religions, such as Orthodox Judaism and Islam, prohibit physical contact between men and women. In these situations follow the lead of the others around you. In general, men will exchange shakes with other men and likewise the women with other women. In place of a shake it is appropriate to give a short nod of your head. The cultural implications of shaking hands The once culturally pure suburbs of Detroit are becoming more and more diverse as emerging migrant populations and suburban sprawl increases. The streets of downtown Rochester, Royal Oak, and Birmingham are a blend of people with different ethnicity and religions. Personal interaction when meeting people or conducting business is improved when you know the cultural implications of handshaking. In Russia and Poland shaking hands is okay provided it is not done in a doorway or over a threshold. Shaking in a doorway is considered to be unlucky for both people. Hand shaking should occur before one gets to the door or after they have already entered. In Europe it is considered impolite to shake hands while wearing gloves. Even on the coldest days it is expected the other person is important enough for you to remove your gloves. Fashion gloves worn by women are an exception as these gloves can remain on the woman's hands however only if the gloves are designed specifically to be worn indoors. In sub-Sahara Africa a handshake typically involves both hands. The right hands clasp while left hands are laid over the right hands during the shake. 36
  • 37. In most Western cultures, such as the United States it is rude for a man to shake extend his hand to a woman unless she first extends her hand. Although this cultural courtesy is dying it is still expected to be followed in the elite and those in the Builder Generation. Never attempt to shake the hand of a German man if he is with his wife unless you first shake her hand. It is disrespectful and belittling to the woman if you seek to first shake her husband's hand. Understanding the cultures of handshaking prevents creating a faux pas and puts you on the fast track to relationship building. Interesting Greeting Customs of Different Countries To strike up cordial relation with the foreigner you must be aware of the popular customs of the country you visit. This first impression will help you earn trust of the natives and gain their confidence in you. Though the common way of greeting - handshake is generally accepted all over the world, but there are certain additions to this, unique to the particular culture of the nation. Here is a guide to the various greeting customs observed by people of different countries. Chinese people accept the western handshake but with a pumping motion and a lighter grip. Looking straight into the eyes while greeting is considered rude, so it is better to receive the greeting with lowered eyes as a mark of respect. Moreover, a new friend in Chinese culture is greeted with applause. In reaction to this, the recipient is expected to act humble and blush in case of Americans. Amusingly, Tibetans show their tongue to people as a gesture of politeness. This means they harbor no ill thoughts. Japanese both follow shaking hands and bowing in case of greeting. You need to respond as the host does, either bow or shake hands. Quite contrary to this is Ukrainian style of greeting, where you should be ready to present your right cheek on which three kisses will be planted by the natives along with a hug. Similarly, Russian’s prefer a firm handshake followed by at times a bear hug, a possibility what presents itself in case of a known acquaintance. Even kissing on the cheeks of both men and women are popular but only for Russian men, as the Russian women prefer to keep such closeness for their Russian counterpart. On the other hand, French like a swift handshake on meeting and separation and shaking hands with every person. The European, Caribbean and Latin American people, kissing on cheeks is a popular and common custom. But with Latin Americans, kissing the top of a ladies hand after a soft and lingering handshake is also common. Don’t take the hand before the complete handshake is done, as this will be taken as a rejection. 37
  • 38. Few amusing greeting customs are rubbing noses, often termed “Eskimo Kiss” amidst the inhabitants of South Pacific, North and South Americans and etc. A gesture of taking the guest’s hand and caressing your face is observed by Polynesians, while the Filipinos as a mark of respect to someone elder touches their foreheads to the palm of the other person’s hand. Indians greet everyone with joining their hands and saying “Namaste”, which stands for “The god in me greets the god in you”. Similar to this “Sawaddee,” is said in Thailand. These joined hands go up against the face. The higher the hand, higher is the respect shown. Brazilians greet each other with kisses and hugs, however the aboriginal of the Brazilian Rainforest, make an outsider stand at the periphery of the tribe and beg to enter, that too with a gift. Similar to this is the treatment given in distant parts of Papua New Guinea, where the guest has to tolerate a verbal bashing before proving himself/ herself worthy of a normal greeting. In many countries, like Arabia, speaking to the women is not allowed for a foreigner. Men may greet each other with a hug and kiss on both cheeks, followed by a lasting handshake. Being a non-Arabian woman, you must wait for the Arab men to offer their hand to shake, as it is not common in Arabia to shake hands with women. Thus, with these guidelines, you are equipped to meet and greet people from all nations and leave a nice mark on them. Your handshake around the world An extra layer of knowledge Conducting business abroad requires an extra layer of knowledge: that of the local business culture and its customs. While the global work environment is more fluid and interconnected than ever, localities retain their cultural nuances, both social and professional. Being aware and respectful of those particulars can help establish trust and facilitate successful global business dealings. Before your next — and especially your first — business meeting in Shanghai, London or Rio de Janeiro, brush up on the professional culture basics. BBC Capital consulted etiquette experts and handbooks around the world to bring you a look at the must-know information on how to greet colleagues and clients, how to behave in meetings and at meals and what to expect when doing business in seven of the world’s leading business centres. 38
  • 39. In Brazil... Greetings: Brazilians are regarded the world around for their warmth and friendliness, something that is also evident in the country’s business culture. Brazilians often stand close when talking and it is common for them to touch the person — on the shoulder, for example — they are conversing with. People often greet each other (particularly women) with light cheek kisses, even in business environments. Men often will shake hands. Take time to personally greet and speak with each person and make a special point to say goodbye to each person individually. Schedules: Schedules tend to be flexible in Brazil, with business meetings sometimes starting later than planned. But to be safe, be on time. The Brazilian work schedule includes a significant number of federal holidays and generous allotted vacation time. People tend to take their time off — and they savour it. They do not expect (or expect others) to do business during time off, so be prepared to work around holiday schedules. Meetings: Brazilians are social, preferring face-to-face communication over emails or phone calls. Personal relationships are of high importance in Brazilian business life, so conversations are likely to veer into what some cultures might consider private topics, such as personal lives and family activities. Expect these topics to come up, even in meetings with multiple attendees. Meals: Brazilians tend to keep up appearances, scheduling business meals at upscale, talkedabout restaurants. Meals can stretch for hours — there’s no such thing as rushing a meal in Brazil. Lunches also can start in the mid to late afternoon. The host is the one expected to bridge the conversation from business to personal. (Thinkstock) In the United Kingdom... Greetings: British people conduct themselves in a polite and reserved manner in business. People are mindful of personal space and do not stand or speak too close. They also greet each other with handshakes, but they should be lighter than the more firm handshake expected when doing business in the United States. Schedules: The British also tend to stick to schedules and expect punctuality in all matters of business, including meal times. Be careful not to schedule meetings at times you think you could be late arriving. The British workday tends to follow a clear schedule, with many professionals heading home at 17:00 or 17:30. Meetings: British society is relatively striated and business structures have a similarly clear hierarchy. People expect protocol to be followed: address the proper people and go through the 39
  • 40. established channels when planning and conducting meetings. Meetings should be scheduled in advance and have a specific objective, which should be outlined in the meeting invitation. Meals: The British practice formal table manners, including properly positioning utensils on the plate when done (at 5:25). You might also be invited to attend a cricket match or regatta in lieu of business meal. These are formal events and attendees should dress accordingly, in professional attire. In China... Greetings: People shake hands when meeting, often with slight bows. Age and rank are clearly noted and respected in China. People introduce themselves in line with this — that is, the most senior individuals are greeted first. Because the Chinese value the group over the individual, full names are written with family name first. The Chinese also might initially introduce themselves this way. People also tend to introduce themselves with their full titles and company name — and you should follow suit. Schedules: Punctuality is appreciated and respected in business. Arriving early for a dinner, however, is considered a sign of hunger and is therefore rude. Show up about five minutes before a meeting or meal is scheduled to begin. Meetings: Chinese culture is reserved compared with other cultures around the world. As such, the Chinese may come off as standoffish in professional gatherings. Meetings are kept civil and respectful in a formal way — and they stick to business. Chinese meetings are highly structured, so interrupting is considered rude. Because Chinese are hyper aware of seniority and rank, seating should be arranged with this in mind. Meals: The Chinese are very hospitable and lavish when hosting guests, including in business. It is not uncommon to throw banquets for guests (a gesture that should be returned at some point) and for business associates to argue over who will pick up a check. There will likely be frequent toasts during meals. The protocol: clink your glass below the rim of someone of a higher rank. Do not serve your own drink, but make sure to keep the glasses of those next to you full. Because dishes are usually served on a lazy Susan, you should serve yourself from the dish directly in front of you. Slurping soup and burping at the table are acceptable, so don’t be put off. People leave food on their plate to show they are satisfied. It is also common practice for Chinese hosts to stay until the guest of honour leaves. (Getty) In the United States... Greetings: People introduce themselves by name and with a firm handshake to everyone present. Business culture in the US is generally mindful of the separation between professional and private life. While pleasantries and a brief exchange asking how someone is doing are common, 40
  • 41. conversation quickly moves to business. Similarly, Americans are very conscious about personal space and tend to give more than in European or Latin countries. Close-talking is generally uncomfortable in American professional settings. Schedules: Whether on phone calls, to meals or dinner, promptness is expected. Many people in the US consider being on time as actually being late in business settings, so be sure to arrive early. That said, expect a straggler or two. Business dinners generally follow the conclusion of the workday and tend to start as late as 19:00. Meetings: In most business settings, Americans schedule meeting times and stick to them. Conversation is usually kept on-topic and sticks to business, with light conversation before or after a meeting wraps. While it varies by industry, Americans tend to dress conservatively, although many workplaces in the US have adopted business casual dress policies. Meals: Americans are open to scheduling and doing business at any meal, including breakfast. But people watch the clock, including during business lunches, which are typically kept to one-hour’s time. Don’t be put off by your host checking his or her watch at regular intervals, but answering calls or checking phones during a meal is impolite. Wait until everyone is served before eating. Americans are known to be big eaters, so feel free to take seconds if offered. Keep in mind that smoking is unpopular indoors the US, not to mention illegal in most settings where a business meal would take place. To be safe (and avoid potential judgment) wait until the meal has concluded to smoke outside. Follow the host’s lead when it comes to ordering alcohol. (Getty) In Singapore... Greetings: People shake hands when they meet and often also greet each other with a small, polite bow. Singaporeans address each other formally — and you should do the same. Business cards should be offered and received with two hands. Schedules: Tardiness is considered disrespectful. Be on time, at the least. Arriving early is appreciated in Singapore, be it for business or social activities. Meetings: Efficiency is the goal, so meetings and dealings often are fast-paced. Singaporeans are direct in their discussions, even when the subject is about money. People dress conservatively, especially in business settings. Rank is important and dictates how people interact in meetings. For example, people avoid disagreeing outright with someone of a higher rank. Meals: Dinners are common, but generally they are treated more like social gatherings than business dealings. Asian cutlery, like chopsticks and porcelain spoons, usually are presented and should be utilized. Singapore has a sizable Muslim population, so be careful not to use your left hand to pass anything at the table or to eat, even if you are left handed. A small bowl of water and towel are often given to each diner for hand washing. Dip the towel into the bowl and use it 41
  • 42. to clean your fingertips, as well as around your mouth if necessary. If a lemon is provided, rub it on your fingers and then dip your fingers into the bowl. (Thinkstock) In the United Arab Emirates... Greetings: Status is important in the UAE, so the most senior or oldest person should be greeted first — with their titles. A lingering handshake is the expected method for introduction. Do not pull away from the handshake, even if it seems lengthy. It is not uncommon for someone to take another person’s hand when showing then something or leading them to a destination. Schedules: For most companies, the official workweek runs Sunday through Thursday to avoid working on Friday, the Muslim holy day. While locals might generally follow more relaxed schedules and keep people waiting, they expect foreigners to be prompt. The Muslim call to prayer sounds out five times per day and can interrupt business dealings. Expect your hosts to slip out for this, and wait patiently for them to return. Meetings: As cultural protocol dictates, women should cover themselves when it comes to dress, even in business settings. Men also tend to be covered from neck to elbows and down to the knees. Men should be mindful to not maintain too much eye contact with women. Business deals often happen among family and friends, and honour is a driving force in business. First meetings are typically meant to establish relationships and build trust, so business should come second to forging personal relationships in your initial meetings. Meals: Hospitality is taken seriously in the Middle East — to the point that some meals or events might seem extravagant to outsiders. People do not shy from entertaining in their homes, but they also hold business meals at restaurants. Touching or passing food or eating with your left hand is to be avoided. Keep in mind that alcohol consumption in public is illegal in the UAE, as in most Islamic countries. Business breakfasts are common. When meetings are one-on-one, however, if your host offers you coffee, you should refuse. It might seem odd, but it is a cultural tradition. Coffee should only be accepted if it is already set out or presented. In Switzerland... Greetings: Shake hands with everyone when coming and going. The Swiss tend to be formal and address each other by last name with honorific titles like Mr. or Ms. They also are respectful of private lives and do not inquire deeply about personal subjects with colleagues. You should be careful not to ask about personal topics. Schedules: Punctuality is vital, something that stems from a deep respect for others’ time among the Swiss. Arrive at any meeting or event a few minutes early to be safe. 42
  • 43. Meetings: The Swiss pride themselves on appearing poised in business. Businesspeople tend to be firm in their dealings without being pushy. They also have clear structure in their companies and authority is respected. Higher-ups make the final decisions, even if others might disagree. Neat, clean dress is expected. The Swiss craft agendas for business meetings and follow them closely, so be sure to study the agenda before you arrive. Meals: The Swiss are protective of their personal time outside of working hours, so you will likely be invited to lunch instead of dinner for a business meal. If you are asked to a business dinner, your spouse will generally be extended an invitation, too — and should attend if able. The Swiss follow formal table manners. They also keep their hands visible at the table and their elbows off the table. It is polite to finish the food on your plate. (Getty) 43
  • 44. PART 2: EYE CONTACT 3 Etiquette Rules You Should Know About Eye Contact Eye contact is the most immediate and noticeable nonverbal message you can send others. Not enough eye contact and people deem you untrustworthy. Too much eye contact may seem inappropriate for most professional settings. "It can be subtle or direct, and knowing how to mix the two is a major part of the art of building relationships," Sharon Sayler writes in her new book What Your Body Says (And How to Master the Message). But how do you know how much eye contact is too little or too much? And where do you actually look when you're looking someone in the eye? According to Sayler, the appropriate amount of eye contact should be "a series of long glances instead of intense stares." Below are a few other etiquette rules about eye contact you should keep in mind: 1. Eye contact with a business associate. This positioning is most appropriate in a business situation. Imagine a line below your business associate's eyes. This will serve as the base of a triangle and the peak will be at their midforehead. To maintain a professional contact, keep your eyes in the middle of that triangle when speaking to others. 2. Eye contact in a personal relationship. If you know the other person on a personal level, invert the triangle so that its peak is now at their mouth. Still, keep your eyes focused in the middle of the triangle, which is now at the bridge of their nose. Also, always be aware that spending too much time looking at the lower half of someone's face may give off inappropriate nonverbal messages. 3. Eye contact with controlled blinking. "We tend to blink more when we are under stress so learn to control your blink rate," Sayler says. If you're trying to send a serious message, you should practice your direct eye contact without blinking, because "limited blinking adds to your message's credibility." 44
  • 45. Managing your eye contact is important, as it can give away what you're thinking and how you're feeling. In a business environment, you need to learn how to monitor your own eye contact and movements, as these messages are the most expressive of all nonverbal messages. When thinking about eye contact, you should also be aware of the cultures involved. Direct and prolonged eye contact is seen as a sign of trustworthiness and is more appreciated in Western cultures. On the other hand, it may be seen as a sign of disrespect to look directly at a superior in Eastern cultures. Business Etiquette on Eye Contact As a small-business owner or leader, it is important to understand aspects of business etiquette for your dealings with business partners, associates and employees that you train. Eye contact is one key element of business etiquette. Appropriately engaging people you engage with is important to projecting the right attitude and image. Proper Approach Appropriate eye contact includes around three to five seconds of constant engagement of a listener before you look away. Typically, in a conversation, you look the other person in the eye when speaking or listening, then look away briefly to reflect or ponder your next thought. Eye contact is equally important whether talking or listening. When you talk, eye contact helps you capture attention. When you listen, eye contact shows that you have genuine interest in what the other person says. Messages Conveyed The point of proper eye contact is that it conveys specific messages in a conversation or presentation. When speaking, eye contact projects an image of professionalism. It also shows that you have confidence in yourself and what you say. Your eyes strengthen your message when you have passion and enthusiasm for your company, products or services. Eye contact also shows respect for the other person, whether you speak or listen. Improper Approach In general, the worst thing you can do is not engage the other party at all with your eyes. This conveys disinterest or lack of engagement with the other person. You can also misfire with eye contact that is too brief or excessive. Irregular or fragmented eye contact suggests you are nervous, lack confidence or are distracted by things going on around you. None of these are 45
  • 46. positive messages. Overly long eye contact either projects a domineering attitude or possible romantic interest in the other party. International Considerations While eye contact is a universal nonverbal communication method, its meaning can vary across cultures. In Western Europe, I contact carries a similar meaning as it does in the U.S., as it is viewed as polite. In Asia, Africa and Latin America, though, prolonged eye contact is generally regarded as disrespectful or challenging. Thus, if you do business with people from those cultures, it is important to consider this difference in the field. Brief eye contact is common, but it is important not to stare or lock eyes for too long. The Importance of Eye Contact How often have you talked with another guy who never looked you in the eye during the entire length of the conversation? Or perhaps he did meet your gaze a few times, but then his eyes shifted back to his shoes or to some point off in the distance. I’d like to say that the ability to make good eye contact is one of the social skills a lot of young men seem to be struggling with these days, which would be true, but I’ve encountered enough gaze-averting middle-aged men to know that it’s a multi-generational problem. And actually, it’s probably something men have always struggled with—females are on average better at making and holding eye contact than males, and in fact, it’s been found that the higher the levels of testosterone a fetus is exposed to in utero, the less eye contact they make as infants—across genders. Interestingly, the exception to this rule are male babies who have the very highest levels of T; they end up being as adept at eye contact as their female counterparts—alpha babies aren’t afraid to look you in the eye! But just because making eye contact doesn’t come naturally to us men, doesn’t mean you should just shrug your shoulders and accept this predisposition. The ability to make high-level eye contact is a skill every man should work on, as it has been shown to create some incredible benefits for the gazer. Numerous studies have shown that people who make higher-levels of eye contact with others are perceived as being: • • • • 46 More dominant and powerful More warm and personable More attractive and likeable More qualified, skilled, competent, and valuable
  • 47. • • More trustworthy, honest, and sincere More confident and emotionally stable And not only does increased eye contact make you seem more appealing in pretty much every way to those you interact with, it also improves the quality of that interaction. Eye contact imparts a sense of intimacy to your exchanges, and leaves the receiver of your gaze feeling more positive about your interaction and connected to you. In short, making greater eye contact with others can increase the quality of all of your face-toface interactions; there’s no area of your life where being seen as more attractive, confident, and trustworthy wouldn’t be a boon. Being able to look people in the eye and hold their gaze can help you better network with others, land a job, pitch an idea, make a moving speech, woo the ladies, and intimidate your enemies. It can help a lawyer win over a jury, a boxer psych out his opponent, and a minister connect with his congregants. It can even aid a musician in winning over new fans; studies have shown that the more eye contact a musician makes with his audience, the more they enjoy his music—take note ye members of struggling bands! And the best part of all this is that improving your eye contact is something you can do relatively quickly and easily. Next week in the second article of this two-part series, we’ll cover all the practical nuts and bolts on how to do that, and offer some really helpful eye contact tips for both general conversational situations as well as specific scenarios. But today we’d like to begin with an exploration of why making eye contact is so important in forming relationships with other people, and why it can be so hard to do. Why Eye Contact Is Vitally Important for Creating Positive Connections with Others Why does making eye contact with people have such a dramatic effect in improving their perception of you? There are four main reasons: 1. Our eyes were made to connect. It’s easy to see why the eyes of others capture our gaze: they’re free-moving orbs lodged in an otherwise stationary face; eyeballs are really kind of weird when you think about them, aren’t they? But they also grab our attention for a reason that is distinctly human. While our irises and pupils float on a bright white canvas, none of the other 220 species of primates have white in their eyes at all, or at least whites that can readily be seen. 47
  • 48. Image source The whites of our eyes make it very easy for others to see exactly what we’re looking at and notice when our focus changes direction. While primates will typically turn their gaze in the direction a person points his whole head towards, a human infant is more likely to follow the person’s eyes, regardless of which way the person’s head is tilted. Anthropologists think our uniquely human eyes evolved to help us achieve a greater level of cooperation with others, which is helpful in survival and building a civilization. All of which is to say: your eyes were made to communicate with the eyes of other people. 2. Our eyes reveal our thoughts and feelings. You’ve probably heard the old expression: “The eyes are the window to the soul.” While that may not be literally true, they do reveal a great deal about what we’re really thinking and feeling from moment to moment. Think of all the eye-related expressions we have in our language. We’re seduced by “bedroom eyes,” wary of “shifty eyes,” and afraid of getting the “evil eye.” We’re attracted to people who have “kind eyes” and eyes that “sparkle,” “glow,” or “twinkle,” while we’re repelled by those who are “dead behind the eyes.” When someone is eager and peppy we say they’re “bright-eyed;” when they’re bored we describe their eyes as “glazed over.” Love stories in both fiction and real life very often begin with two pairs of eyes meeting across a room. And Bryan Adams says you can gauge your love for a woman from your ability to see your unborn children in her eyes! Kind of romantic, kind of creepy. That we give so much credence to the idea that we can read someone from what’s in their eyes is due to the fact that even when we hide what we’re really thinking and feeling in our body language and facial expressions, it’s often still revealed in our eyes. “The eyes don’t lie” as people say (although good liars can, in reality, get their eyes to fib for them). This is why poker players often wear sunglasses in order to disguise their reactions to the hands they’re dealt. The human propensity to look to someone’s eyes in order to decipher what they’re thinking starts very early in life. Around 9-18 months, infants will begin to look to their parents’ eyes to 48
  • 49. figure out what they’re trying to convey when their face is otherwise ambiguous. And we continue to do this for the rest of our lives. Finally, we lend a lot of weight to eye contact in our interactions because it’s a form of simultaneous communication. You don’t have to take turns expressing yourselves as you do with talking. If you’ve ever had a whole mini conversation across the room with your spouse, using only your eyes, you know how this works. 3. Eye contact shows attention. Sociologists tell us that people are starved for attention these days. Despite the fact that we’re more “connected” than ever, folks are hungry for face-to-face interactions and someone to really, sincerely listen to them. This hunger for attention can manifest itself in things like “conversational narcissism.” And if you read our discussion about that social malady from awhile back, you’ll remember that we talked about how you show your attention to someone with whom you are talking by using “support-responses,” such as nodding your head and offering “background acknowledgments” like “mmm’s” and “yeah’s.” Well, eye contact is another form of background acknowledgement—and a very important one at that. It shows the speaker that you’re tuned in to what he’s saying. Think of how crappy you feel when you’re talking with someone and he’s looking all around the room for someone else to ditch you for. The ability to give eye contact to someone as they speak is an especially powerful tool these days; it has become so common for people to break their gaze to check their phone during a conversation, that giving someone your complete and undivided attention can truly win them over. 4. Eye contact creates an intimate bond. When I am performing a task or feeling an emotion, and you are observing me do so, the same neurons that are being lit up in my brain by actually having the experience, are the ones that light up in your brain just from watching me. This is made possible by the presence of “mirror neurons” in our craniums. And the activation of these mirror neurons is especially sensitive to facial expressions, and, you guessed it, eye contact. Have you ever been hit hard with an emotion after looking into the eyes of someone who was experiencing it? Eye contact creates moments where you are able to really feel what someone else is feeling. It links together your emotional states and creates empathy and an intimate bond. This is why when we’re interacting as disembodied selves on the internet, it can be very easy to be angry and hateful to people, but when you see someone face-to-face, and look into their eyes, you often can get a sense of their humanity and your anger greatly dissipates. Getting in-sync with others, sharing our feelings, showing attention, creating a bond: eye contact is truly a powerful tool for connecting with others. 49
  • 50. Why Is It So Hard to Make Eye Contact? But on the other hand…getting in-sync with others, sharing our feelings, showing attention, creating a bond…these things aren’t easy—especially for men! While people like to see our eyes so they can get a handle on what we’re really thinking and feeling, from our side of things, revealing what’s going on inside our heads can make us feel very vulnerable. We avoid eye contact when we don’t want people to take a closer look at us and see more of who we are. This reticence can be rooted in several causes: Hiding deceit. If you’re purposefully hiding the truth from someone, you may hesitate to look them in the eye because you’re worried that your eyes will give away the truth, and because creating the kind of intimate bond described above when you’re knowingly duping someone makes you feel especially ashamed. This is why people will sometimes, although not always, avoid your gaze when they’re lying to you, why people say things like: “Look me in the eye when you tell me that!” and why people who do make solid eye contact are considered more trustworthy. Masking emotions. There are times when you’re not trying to disguise a lie outright, but simply wish to conceal your true feelings from others, such as when you do not think your reaction to something will be received favorably by them. Anger, fear, and surprise are the emotions that register most through our eyes, and are hardest to hide. And they’re also the emotions we most often want to keep from others. Insecurity. Finally, one of the most common reasons that people avoid eye contact is from simple insecurity. Eye contact invites more interaction, and you might not want people to take a closer look at you because of how you feel about yourself. 50
  • 51. People with higher-status make more eye contact when they’re speaking to others, while those who feel they are of lower-status will make less eye contact and be the first to avert their gaze. When a guy can’t look anyone in the eye when he’s speaking to them, it’s often because he doesn’t feel like he comes up to anyone’s level; he doesn’t believe he can hold his own with other people. This lack of confidence can be rooted in insecurity over one’s physical appearance, or the state of one’s mind. A study was done where college students were shown faces which looked at the participants with different kinds of gazes—averted or direct. The students then ranked the faces on whether they seemed approachable or avoidable. Then a survey was given to the participants that evaluated their mental health. The students who ranked the faces that had a direct gaze as approachable were found to be more emotionally stable than those who found the direct gaze faces avoidable. Another study specifically showed that people who suffer from depression— which can do a number on a person’s self-confidence–are less likely to make eye contact with people. People will also avoid eye contact when saying a sarcastic, as opposed to a sincere, comment, as sarcasm is often used by those who are too insecure to show aggression or state their opinion directly. The Best Way to Improve the Quality of Your Eye Contact The common denominator in all three of the above reasons for avoiding eye contact is the fear of rejection. If eyes are the portals to our feelings and thoughts, eye contact acts as an intimacy regulator. The more eye contact you make, the more you put yourself out there. Thus the more confidence you have in what people will find once they get a closer look at you and peer into the chamber of your heart, the more comfortable you feel with looking them in the eye. And conversely, the more shame you feel about what others will discover when you open up to them, the more likely you are to avert your gaze. As I mentioned, next week we’ll get into the practical nuts and bolts of how to make eye contact in the right way. But it should be obvious from this introduction that no amount of external fine tuning of your gaze can compensate for unresolved internal issues that need fixing. You can force yourself to make eye contact with people even when you don’t feel like it, but good eye contact is not just about quantity, it’s about quality. While it may not be true that the eyes are the window of the soul, in my opinion there really is something almost metaphysical about the way in which our character becomes etched upon them. People with kind eyes are almost invariably kind people. People with a twinkle in their eyes are almost always possessed with an enviable vitality. And those with dead eyes on the outside, tend to be dead on the inside, too. 51
  • 52. Thus the foundation of good eye contact truly comes from within (changing your outer appearance by doing things like losing weight and dressing your best helps too, but even these things typically require a change of inner attitude). The more you live a life of integrity, the easier it will be to look everyone you meet in the eye, and do it with confidence and a real smile. How to Make Eye Contact the Right Way in Life, Business, and Love General Principles for Making Effective Eye Contact Eye contact begets eye contact. You might be hesitant to make eye contact with people because you don’t think they want to make eye contact with you. And sure enough, when you look at them the first time, they look away. But they’re probably looking away because they’re thinking the same thing you did; that you don’t really want to make eye contact with them! Even though you made the first move, they’re still worried about rejection. But most people are just waiting for permission to get into a mutual gaze. Studies have shown that once one person in a conversing pair initiates greater eye contact, the other person will follow suit and increase his or her own level of eye contact as well. But don’t be a creeper. In order for eye contact to be effective, it needs to be welcome and appropriate. When eye contact is unwanted, it goes from gazing to staring, and being stared at makes people uncomfortable. Eye contact results in physiologic arousal—it increases prefrontal 52
  • 53. brain activity and activates the sympathetic nervous system, speeding up a person’s heart rate, perspiration, and breathing. And this happens not only when you’re directly looking into someone’s eyes, but also when you simply perceive that someone is staring at you. This arousal can be a good thing–if you and a lovely lady are looking into each other’s eyes, it can create a more intense connection. But when someone fixes their gaze on you in a creepy way, it can feel as if a predator is stalking you in the wild; it sets off your threat-o-meter. Thus good eye contact is based on mutuality. As Michael Ellsberg, author of The Power of Eye Contact, puts it: “In order for eye contact to feel good, one person cannot impose his visual will on another; it is a shared experience. Perhaps eyes meet only for a second at first; one partner then tests the waters and tries a few seconds, and when that is met warmly, the pair can begin ramping up the eye contact together until they are locked in a beautiful dance of eyes and gazes.” [emphasis mine] After you’ve made two attempts to initiate eye contact with someone, if they don’t reciprocate at all, give it up. When you’re with someone you’re not as familiar with, lean back as you increase your eye contact. The bit of added space between you balances out the greater eye contact you’re making, allowing the receiver of your gaze to feel more comfortable and keeping the intimacy level from ramping up too quickly. Conversely, when someone is talking to you about something intense and personal, lean in as you hold their gaze to show that you’re giving them your full attention. Focus on one eye at a time and switch between them. When you’re sitting close to someone, you can’t actually look at both of their eyes at the same time, and if you try to, your gaze will become off-putting and laser-like. You may have never stopped to think about it, but when you look someone in the eye, it is literally just their eye; you look at one of their eyes at a time. You probably already have one eye (the left or the right) that you tend to focus on, but it’s good to switch your gaze from one eye to the other during a conversation (it looks more natural and show more attention and interest). Don’t flit your gaze between their eyes too frequently—you don’t want to appear as if you’re watching a ping-pong match. Smoothly and naturally. Some people suggest that since you can’t look in both of a person’s eyes at the same time, you should just stare at the bridge of his or her nose. But people can sometimes tell you’re doing that, making the tactic seem artificial and even manipulative. 53
  • 54. Don’t overdo it. More eye contact is good…up to a point. You don’t want to lock eyes with someone for an entire conversation. About every 5 seconds, or about the time it takes to speak a single sentence, look away from their eyes for a beat and then back again. Find a natural rhythm– don’t be counting the seconds in your head. If you feel lost as to how to find that rhythm at first, try the “triangle method.” Look at one of the person’s eyes for a beat, then the other eye for a beat, then at their mouth, and then back at their first eye. Repeat. As you practice this method and get a handle on what good eye contact feels like, you should be able to jettison the set pattern for a flow that comes naturally. It’s fine to look away from someone when you’re trying to gather your thoughts. 54
  • 55. Also note that it’s quite normal and appropriate to break eye contact and look away from someone as you recall a memory, mull something over, or gather your thoughts about what you want to say next. When you break your gaze, look to the side, not down. Looking down when you break someone’s gaze signals lower-status, shame, and/or submission. Not the kind of message you want to convey. Instead, break your gaze horizontally. Work your way up. Improving your eye contact is something you can do relatively quickly and easily. It just takes practice. Start out by increasing your eye contact with your family; you may find you don’t even look your own brother in the eye when you talk to him. Then increase your eye contact with your friends, and then your co-workers. As you start to feel more comfortable holding people’s gaze, work on making eye contact with salespeople and waiters. Finally, start making eye contact with strangers and new people you meet. Before long you’ll be a veritable eye contact expert! Eye Contact Tips for Specific Scenarios In Business and Sales When giving criticism/feedback to an employee. Sitting directly face-to-face makes the conversation seem more intimidating and interrogation-like. Instead, sit across from the employee at about a 45 degree angle, with the hand you’re writing with closest to the employee. This angled position makes it more natural for you to oscillate your gaze between the employee’s eyes and the paperwork in front of you. When trying to make a sale. If you’re a salesman, making eye contact with potential buyers is important in building trust and rapport, but it’s also useful to watch for when they make eye contact with you. They’ll often do that when you’ve said something that especially interests them, so pause and expand on that point or product feature. 55
  • 56. When you’re making a pitch. Make eye contact with everyone in the room. Don’t make eye contact with the president but not the veep. Don’t forget to make eye contact with the secretary too. In a job interview. In a job interview, eye contact is second in importance only to dress when it comes to nonverbal influencers. One study found that interviewers “were more likely to hire and rate as credible and attractive interviewees who maintained a normal or high degree of gaze than those who averted their gaze.” So be sure to make good, solid eye contact with the interviewer using the tips above. When You Want to Intimidate Make more eye contact when you speak than when you listen. People who have higher-status make more eye contact when they’re speaking, and less eye contact when they’re listening; this shows power. Those with lower-status do the opposite, and this shows submission. A high ratio of speaking to listening eye contact is referred to as visual dominance. Now keep in mind that in most interactions, even if you do actually have higher-status than the person with whom you’re conversing, the best way to go is to make equal amounts of eye contact whether you’re speaking or listening. It pays to make a lot of eye contact when listening, as it makes the other person feel important, and making other people feel important is the linchpin of becoming charming and thus persuasive. Famously charismatic men like Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton were well-known for their ability to make each person they met feel like no one else in the room mattered, and they did that by locking eyes with the person and really listening to him or her. But in situations where it would be advantageous to show that there’s a pecking order, and that you’re on top of it, try making more eye contact when you speak and less when you listen. 56
  • 57. Hide your eyes. When someone covers his eyes, the communication and feedback between him and another person becomes one-sided. The “eye-less” guy can see what’s going on with the other person, but the other person doesn’t know what’s going on with the eye-less guy. This is why studies have shown that those who cover their eyes seem more powerful and in control— although this imbalance also naturally creates resentment from those they interact with. This is why police officers in mirrored shades can seem intimidating, why people who wear sunglasses indoors tick other people off, and why Darth Vader is so dang scary. Stare ‘em down. When you can’t or don’t want to cover your eyes, but you still want to intimidate someone, it’s simply a matter of staring them down and not being the one who looks away first. The person who maintains his gaze shows dominance and higher-status, while the person who looks away first signals their submission. Maintaining your glare shows that you’re confident, which can sometimes help psyche out an opponent, or convince the guy who wants to fight you at the bar to back off. MMA fighters are masters of the stare-down: Meeting the Eyes of a Stranger on the Street First, why would you want to do this anyway? Well Michael Ellsberg argues that making eye contact with strangers you pass on the street is not only excellent practice for making eye contact with people you actually know, and can lead to getting more dates, it can even “transform the urban landscape:” “Before I started doing this, I would walk around the city and mostly view the other people I encountered as obstacles or annoyances. But once I started doing it—once I started looking into the windows of hundreds of people’s souls each day—the whole scene shifted. I suddenly saw so much beauty out there, so much sadness. So many heavy burdens, so much joy…The city became a symphony of emotion—all from this simple shift.” According to Ellsberg there are a few keys to successfully making brief eye contact with strangers on the street, and they basically all revolve around the fact that you don’t want your eye contact to make people feel threatened. First, he recommends keeping your facial expression neutral and your gaze soft—the eye and face muscles are relaxed–no laser-eyes. Second, you don’t want to initiate eye contact with someone from too far away; you should attempt to make eye contact with the person when you’re about 4-5 paces from crossing paths. Finally, only look into their eyes for a quick moment—about one pace or just long enough to see their eye color. 57
  • 58. When Talking to Other Men As we mentioned earlier, eye contact creates physical and psychological arousal, increasing activity in the receiver’s prefrontal brain and speeding up their breathing and heart rate. For men, this physiological response can make a high-stakes conversation feel too confrontational. So when you want to talk to another man about something important, do it side-by-side—go for a drive, or a walk, or fishing together. When Trying to Woo Women Eye contact is one of the best ways of building attraction with the ladies and is beneficial in every stage of a relationship: The Initial Encounter Making eye contact with a woman. While you may think of your level of attractiveness as set in stone, studies have shown that how attractive you look to others is influenced by things like your facial expression, and, you guessed it, whether or not you’re gazing in their direction. Simply looking at a woman directly, while also smiling, makes you appear more attractive to her. The most attractive face to show a woman is one with direct eye contact, a relaxed face (don’t show tension, especially in your jaw), and an easy smile. If a woman meets your eyes, don’t be the first one to look away. Remember, the person who holds the gaze longer shows power; you’re not literally trying to assert your superiority here— holding your gaze simply signals your confidence, which is attractive to women. 58
  • 59. Interpreting her eye contact. When you look over at a woman, she will usually look away, whether she’s interested in you or not. But the way in which she averts her gaze tells you a lot about whether she wants you to approach her or not: • If she looks down and then looks back at you less than 45 seconds later, she is almost definitely interested. This sign is so nearly fail-proof that you don’t need any smooth pickup lines when you approach her—just offer your hand and introduce yourself. • If she looks away horizontally, she’s not sure if she’s interested in you or not yet. Smile and make eye contact again to see how she reacts. • If she averts her gaze by looking up, she’s not interested. Basically, she just rolled her eyes at you. After You Meet Once you’ve caught a lady’s eye, and have started talking with her, don’t let up on the eye contact, because it will continue to reap benefits. In our previous article, we talked about the way in which eye contact fosters intimate bonds, and that’s a boon if you’re trying to win over a woman. In a study conducted by Dr. Arthur Aron, strangers were brought into a lab and paired off into opposite sex couples. The newly-formed couples who were asked to look into each other’s eyes for two minutes straight later reported feelings of attraction, affection, and even love for their partners. One of the couples even went on to marry. Once You’ve Been Together Awhile 59
  • 60. So eye contact can help initiate a relationship and then deepen its intensity. It can also keep feelings of love alive in the long-term. Studies have shown that couples with the strongest love for each other also make the most eye contact and hold mutual gazes for longer periods of time. Now correlation isn’t causation—does gazing at each other more keep you in love, or is it just that those who are in love want to look at each other more often? Probably more of the latter, but it certainly couldn’t hurt to try to “see” (in the Avatar sense, naturally) your partner more often. Make some googoo eyes over dinner from time to time. When Giving a Speech Speakers who make eye contact with the audience are perceived as more trustworthy, competent, and confident. Eye contact also helps you build a greater sense of intimacy between you and your audience, and this connection creates ethos; which in turn makes your message more convincing. Someone who’s constantly looking at their notes seems nervous (Do they have something to hide? Are they not competent enough to prepare adequately?) and is more likely to be dismissed. When you’re speaking to a large audience, it is of course not possible to make eye contact with each and every person in attendance. Some people will tell you to fake it by looking over everyone’s heads—but you won’t convince anyone with that method. You also shouldn’t do the head bobber thing where you look at your notes for a second and then quickly at your audience and then back at your notes…Finally don’t “spray” your gaze over the audience like you’re shooting it from an aerosol can. Instead, you want to make actual eye contact with individual members of the audience. 60
  • 61. In order to be able to do this, you first need to try to memorize your speech, and if you can’t do that in its entirety, then create an outline with just your main points, so that you only have to look down a few times to find your way. Now that your eyes are free to roam around the room, you can go about making eye contact with folks in the audience in a few different ways, depending on the size of the audience: 30 people or less. When you’re addressing a small group, say around a conference table, don’t keep moving your gaze clockwise or counterclockwise around the table, stopping to make a few seconds of eye contact with each person before sweeping around again. People will begin to anticipate and sort of dread their “turn.” Always be looking at someone, but keep who you look at random and mix it up throughout your presentation. 30 or more people. Try the triangle method; it’s much like the triangle method for face-to-face interactions mentioned above, only with whole persons swapped for the individual’s eyes and mouth. Imagine an invisible triangle sitting on top of the audience. You make eye contact with a person on the right side point of the triangle, and then the top point, and then the left point. Then repeat. To mix it up and keep your pattern from becoming predictable, you invert the triangle from time to time. 75-300 people. Divide the audience into five imaginary groups, and then move your gaze from group to group, picking a different person within the group to make eye contact with each time. 300+ people. If it’s a very large audience, then focus your eye contact on people in the first few rows, while also looking out into the crowd from time to time. With any of these methods, the key is to move your gaze from person to person very casually and smoothly. You don’t want it to seem jerky…”You there! Feel the weight of my eyes! And now you! Now you!” 3 final tips for speeches, regardless of audience size: Open with eye contact. When you get to the podium or the front of the room, take a few second to smile and make eye contact with people before you even begin speaking. This starts you off on the right, connected foot. Don’t keep your eyes glued on the Powerpoint slides. First, you should take the advice of Alex Hunter and keep your slides extremely simple and clean. And second, you should be extremely familiar with what’s on each slide so that you don’t have to keep looking at them and boring the pants off people by reading the slides to them. Look at both friendly faces and hostile faces. Don’t just make eye contact with the friendly faces in the crowd. Look at the hostile, bored faces too. Making eye contact with them could soften 61
  • 62. them up a little for your message. But after looking at a hostile face for a bit, then look at those who are beaming up at you to keep your enthusiasm from flagging. Don’t forget to make eye contact with people at the end of the speech. It’s easy to get caught up in rushing to finish, but the crescendo is when you really want to leave an impact. Be sure to look into people’s eyes as you close to really drive your message home. Note: The principles in this series are written for men who live in Western countries. The importance of eye contact and how to make it can vary from culture to culture. The Power Of Eye Contact: It's A Myth Most of us think that when we want to make a point, we should look the other person in the eye. Spouses, bosses, car salesmen, politicians, all use a direct gaze when they’re trying to convince an audience of many or one that their position is the most valid. Now it turns out that they should probably cast their glance in a different direction. Julia Minson, a psychologist and assistant professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government who studies group decision making and negotiations, and her longtime collaborator, Frances Chen, a psychologist and assistant professor at the University of British Columbia, realized that no one had studied this piece of conventional wisdom—that staring at someone will make the person more likely to see your point. Until now, most of the academic work has focused on what Minson calls “lovey-dovey contexts,” like mothers and babies gazing at each other (which cements their bond) and potential mates meeting one another’s gaze (also enhancing their connection). But when it comes to persuasion, academics have really only looked at interactions from the perspective of speakers, who almost always feel they are getting their point across if they are making eye contact. In a new paper just published in the journal Psychological Science, Minson and Chen tested the proposition that eye contact can win over people who disagree with the speaker. In two different studies (conducted at the University of Freiburg where Chen was doing her post-doctoral work), their data show that people respond more favorably to opposing arguments when the speaker looks at an angle to the recipient or focuses his eyes on his counterpart’s mouth instead of his eyes. Minson says that she and Chen weren’t totally surprised by their results. Those who study animal behavior have proved that many species, like dogs, control others by staring them down and then attacking. “The intuition that drove our research was that when someone disagrees with you and they look you in the eye in a prolonged, direct manner, it gives you the feeling of someone trying to dominate you,” says Minson. “Our reaction may be primal.” 62
  • 63. To test their theory, Minson and Chen ran two studies. In the first one, they observed 20 students watching videos of people making arguments about controversial subjects like quotas for hiring women, assisted suicide and a nuclear power phase-out. They tested various scenarios, including instances where the students were pre-disposed to agree with the speaker or to disagree. Through eye tracking, they measured whether the students were looking at the speakers in the eye. In some of the videos the speakers stared directly at the camera. In others, they gazed out at a 45-degree angle. What Minson and Chen found: In cases where the students disagreed with the speakers’ positions at the outset, direct eye contact made them less likely to change their minds. “In cases where participants made more eye contact, they were less persuaded,” says Minson. In a second study, they relied on a bigger sample of 42 students who watched eight videos made by four students who gazed straight at the camera, with their heads centered against a white background. Again the speakers discussed controversial subjects like hiring quotas and farming practices. All of the listeners disagreed with the speakers’ opinions. The professors directed them either to look directly at the speakers’ eyes or at their mouths. Again Minson and Chen found that those who looked at the speakers’ eyes, rather than their mouths, were less likely to change their opinions. What does this mean for those of us who want to make a point? Minson observes that most people don’t make consistent eye contact. “Your eyes naturally go back and forth between the eyes and the mouth,” she notes. “There’s also some time when your eyes just wander around.” Don’t force yourself to look into the other person’s eyes more than you naturally would, she advises. I had one big question about the study: Is a video interaction really the same as in-person communication? No, says Minson. When people are face to face, there are lots of other things going on, like body language where a speaker might lean in or respond in other ways to an attractive or unattractive recipient. At least the video interaction isolates eye contact. Office Behavior: Eye Contact Is Overrated Eye contact is almost always considered a good thing. Parents demand it from naughty children; it’s also advised when you’re fighting with your spouse. A forthright gaze signals trustworthiness. Richard Nixon wasn’t great at it. A study published in the latest issue of Psychological Science, however, finds that if you want to persuade someone to take your side, a direct stare isn’t necessarily helpful. Researchers used eye-tracking technology to see how often a listener met the eyes of a speaker who took a stance he disagreed with. Say you work in finance and take issue with a colleague’s valuation of an asset. 63
  • 64. You think it’s worth more; he thinks it’s worth less. You’re more likely to get him closer to your number if you look at his mouth, not his eyes. Eye contact is like “Goldilocks and the three bears,” says Carol Kinsey Goman, author of The Silent Language of Leaders: How Body Language Can Help—or Hurt—How You Lead. Too much is supercreepy (Goman calls it “a prolonged stalker stare”), and too little makes you seem unreliable. Instead, aim for “just right”—you know, somewhere between stalker and liar. Meeting a person for the first time, such as in a job interview, “you can’t go wrong with strong eye contact,” Goman says. You want to look at him long enough so you can see the color of his eyes. Just don’t comment on it, stalker. If you’re having a one-on-one with a familiar co-worker, eye contact depends on context, says Julia Minson, an assistant professor of public policy at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and a co-author of the study. “Eye contact from a high-status person to a low-status person can be seen as very domineering,” Minson says. It reminds people of a parent or teacher. Dogs stare each other in the eye before they start fighting for territory. Goman agrees that eye contact from a superior can be overwhelming. In her anecdotal experience as an executive coach, she’s never heard a manager complain about a subordinate with an overly intense gaze, but she’s heard workers grouse about the bullying bosses who stare them down. In small groups you get the best results from eye contact if you look at someone when he’s speaking, rather than when you’re speaking. It signals “respect, inclusion, and empathy,” Goman says. She even suggests a formula: Make eye contact 50 percent or less when you’re speaking and 50 percent or more when someone else is speaking. In bigger groups, lock eyes with key people in the room for a couple of seconds each while you’re talking. “You don’t want to look up, like the answers are on the ceiling,” Goman says, because you come across as unprepared. You don’t want to look down, either, or let your eyes go too quickly around the room, because it looks jerky. Is there ever a situation when a prolonged, direct gaze is appropriate and even necessary? Minson gives the example of a hard negotiation, one in which you don’t care if the other person agrees with or even likes you: “If you just want them to back down, eye contact can be a signal of dominance.” In our tech-saturated world, where co-workers’ eyes are constantly darting to their smartphone screens, an intense glare can be a little scary. Remember that the next time you’re trying to get a colleague to back off or when sparring with an unfriendly dachshund. 64
  • 65. The Role of Eye Contact in Different Cultures Eye contact may be one of the most subtle forms of social interaction, but it should never be underestimated. If you are travelling or planning a trip, it is something that you need to be particularly aware of – as something which is normal social behaviour at home, may not be in another culture. Western Cultures The UK, USA, Australia and Western Europe all have fairly similar social expectations of when and where eye contact is appropriate… which is most of the time! Eye contact is expected in Western culture, it is a basic essential to a social interaction which shows a person’s interest and engagement with your conversation. In Western cultures eyes are considered to show the central point of a person’s focus. So if somebody doesn’t give any eye contact during a conversation, it may be considered insulting. Many people would take this to mean that they weren’t interested, and take their wandering eyes as a sign of their distraction. In other, more formal, circumstances in Western cultures a lack of eye contact can be seen in another way. For example, in an interview situation, strong eye contact by the interviewee is seen as a sign of self-belief, whereas a lack of eye contact is seen as a lack of confidence. Middle Eastern Cultures While the many cultures of the Middle Eastern countries can hardly be grouped together, they do have a few common trends – one of which is their use of eye contact. 65
  • 66. Eye contact is less common, and considered less appropriate than in Western cultures. There are strict gender rules, whereby women should not make too much eye contact with men as it could be misconstrued as a romantic interest. Intense eye contact is often a method used to show sincerity. Long, strong eye contact can mean ‘believe me, I’m telling you the truth’. Asian Cultures Asian cultures place great importance on respect. Hierarchies are much more visible in their society than in Western cultures, and their social behaviors mirror this. In countries such as China and Japan, eye contact is not considered an essential to social interaction, instead it is often considered inappropriate. In such an authoritarian culture, it is believed that subordinates shouldn’t make steady eye contact with their superiors. For example, students are discouraged from making eye contact with their professors, as it can be interpreted as a sign of disrespect. Similarly a daughter will point her eyes downwards when her father is speaking to her, as a sign of politeness and respect. African and Latin American Cultures Many African and Latin American cultures, while unique in many ways, remain strong hierarchical societies. In many circumstances intense eye contact is seen as aggressive, confrontational and extremely disrespectful. Eye contact is so subtly ingrained into every culture that it is something which is rarely even considered before travelling abroad. Westerner’s use of eye contact could be deemed inappropriate, and even disrespectful, in many other cultures – so make sure you learn the use of eye contact and body language before you jet off! 66
  • 67. To Look or Not To Look? : Eye Contact Differences in Different Cultures The eyes are an integral part of the face when it comes to observing or conveying non-verbal information. Each of the seven universal expressions of emotion have some change in or around the eyes that can lead you to understand what someone might be feeling or thinking. When travelling, human interaction is inevitable, but depending on where you go, reading someone’s face for information may not be as easy to do. Since cultural norms guide behavior, people from different countries may communicate differently. The amount, duration, and interpretation of eye contact, for instance, will differ depending on where you are. In the United States and other European countries like Spain, France, and Germany, using direct eye contact is accepted and considered to be a sign of attentiveness, honesty, confidence, and respect for what the other is saying. In Native American culture and most Latin-American, Asian, and African cultures, the opposite is true. Direct eye contact is considered to be impertinent, confrontational, and aggressive. Because these cultures follow the tradition of maintaining a social hierarchy, avoiding direct eye contact is a sign of respect to elders or bosses and is used to maintain harmony among people. For Muslim countries in the Middle East, direct eye contact is acceptable and considered to be a sign of sincerity and trustworthiness between people of the same gender. Direct eye contact between men and women, however, is not advocated and is kept to a minimum if it does occur. If you are from a country where direct eye contact is normal, you may be offended or confused when someone is not making eye contact with you while you are speaking to them. Likewise, if you are from a country that avoids using direct eye contact, you may be taken aback that someone could be so brazen as to look at you straight in the eyes while you are speaking to them, especially if they are younger than you, subordinate to you, or are of a different gender. Being aware of these cultural norms in advance can facilitate communication by allowing people to accept, adapt, and adjust to each other’s cultural communication style. Knowing a culture’s norms can also help you sharpen your non-verbal communication skills by teaching you to pick up on or use different facial or body language cues if you cannot look directly into someone’s eyes. 67
  • 68. Eye Contact in Various Countries Eye Contact: What Does it Communicate in Various Cultures? Eye contact may communicate very different things to people of various cultures. What will you be "saying" by your nonverbal communication when you make eye contact in different cultures? Certainly, there are many non-verbal cues that have completely different meanings in different cultures. One of the most important means of nonverbal communication in any culture is eye contact—or lack thereof. Eye contact—which simply denotes one person looking directly at another person’s eyes—seems to have strong implications in almost every culture, although what these implications are vary extensively across the globe! Eye Contact in the United States What does eye contact mean in the United States? Here, if you have good eye contact with a person, it generally signifies that you are interested in the person you are looking at and in what that person is saying. If you look down or away from a person rather than meeting his or her gaze, you are considered to be distracted or uninterested in him or her. Also, if you neglect to make eye contact with a person, you may be thought to lack self-confidence. On the other hand, a person who makes eye contact with another person is thought to be confident and bold (and boldness is considered a good trait!) So, in summary, making eye contact is generally considered a good thing in the United States. Eye Contact in Western Europe On the one hand, the European customs of eye contact—especially in such countries as Spain, France and Germany—tends to be similar to that in the United States. It is considered proper and polite to maintain almost constant eye contact with another person during a business exchange or a conversation. Yet eye contact also has more flirtatious aspects than it does in the U.S. In the U.S., people often avoid eye contact in crowded impersonal public situations—such as while walking through a busy downtown or riding public transportation. In a country like France, however, a stranger may feel quite free to look at someone he is interested in and try to acknowledge his interest by making eye contact. Therefore, it is important for a visitor to understand the full implications of what he or she may be implying by returning the eye contact initiated by someone else. 68
  • 69. Eye Contact in the Middle East Although all Middle Eastern cultures cannot be grouped into one class, they do have similarities in their rules for the appropriateness of eye culture. Eye contact is much less common and considered less appropriate in many of these cultures than it is considered in the United States. Middle Eastern cultures, largely Muslim, have strict rules regarding eye contact between the sexes; these rules are connected to religious laws about appropriateness. Only a brief moment of eye contact would be permitted between a man and a woman, if at all. However, western women traveling in Muslim areas should not expect that no man will attempt to make eye contact with them. As a matter of fact, their “differentness” may draw attention to them, and men may try to make eye contact with them. They should be aware, however, that returning eye contact, will be considered the same as saying, “Yes, I’m interested!” So when in the Middle East, care should be taken in making eye contact with anyone of the opposite gender. On the other hand, in many Middle Eastern cultures, intense eye contact between those of the same gender—especially between men—can mean “I am telling you the truth! I am genuine in what I say!” Try to observe the eye contact between those of the same gender to see if it is important to meet someone’s gaze when you want to tell them, “Trust me! I’m sincere!” Eye Contact in Asia, Latin America and Africa In many Asian, African and Latin American cultures, extended eye contact can be taken as an affront or a challenge of authority. It is often considered more polite to have only sporadic or brief eye contact, especially between people of different social registers (like a student and a teacher, or a child and his elder relatives). For example, if a Japanese woman avoids looking someone in the eyes, she is not showing a lack of interest nor is she demonstrating a lack of selfconfidence; instead, she is being polite, respectful and appropriate according to her culture. So in many of these cultures, you should take care what kind of eye contact you initiate with those who are your social superiors or who are in authority over you, so that you are not considered disrespectful or overly bold. As you can see, it is vital to know what eye contact communicates before you visit a new culture. Before you travel, you would do well to go to your local public library or bookstore and check out or browse a book about the culture of the country you plan to visit. Learn how to utilize eye contact and other body language wisely so that you are perceived as polite, and so that you can better connect with people in a culture that is foreign to you! 69
  • 70. Business and Social Etiquette - How to Make Eye Contact Rules About When and How to Make Eye Contact in Different Cultures Eye Contact Guidelines Are Not Universal How and when to make eye contact depends entirely on the customs of where you are, who you are with, and the social setting. For example, some cultures consider making direct eye contact aggressive, rude, or a show of disrespect. Other cultures, and some religious groups, consider eye contact between men and women inappropriate and either as threatening or flirtatious. In many Asian cultures, avoiding eye contact with a member of the opposite sex or a superior is seen as a show of respect. However, in the United States and most of Europe, making eye contact is not only seen as appropriate, but is necessary in establishing yourself as a powerful business professional. Eye contact is a method of communication. A quick glance sends a different message than a cold stare - but both are forms of making eye contact. Depending upon the culture, setting and person, the message you think you are sending may not be the one that is received. How to Effectively Communicate by Making The Right Eye Contact In business, and social settings making the "right" eye contact never involves staring at someone or having a fixed gaze. To make eye contact, look directly into the other persons' eyes for 4-5 seconds. Be sure to blink normally, and nod or shift your head from time to time during a conversation. Mimicking the facial expressions of the person talking (i.e., showing concern or smiling) also helps to support appropriate eye contact. A frozen stance and tense face seems more like staring than contact. Almost universally, looking into someone elses' eyes for more than a few seconds before smiling or otherwise changing your facial expression. Blinking fast and frequently can be associated with feeling nervous or uncomfortable; be sure to gauge your own blink rate and watch how the person you are looking at is responding. Making Eye Contact in the United States In the United States, making eye contact is interpreted as showing interest, paying attention, and a sign of self-confidence. Unless the situation itself is confrontational in nature, it is generally acceptable for children, adults, and people of both sexes to make eye contact with other people. In business, it is particularly important that you make eye contact when you are introduced to someone and when they are speaking to you. You do not have to stare someone down, but 70
  • 71. frequently glancing away or refusing to make eye contact may be interpreted as weakness, disinterest, or as being disrespectful. Making Eye Contact in European Countries Most European eye contact customs are similar to those in the United States, specially in such countries as Spain, France and Germany. In France, making eye contact with a stranger may be interpreted as showing interest. Eye Contact in Most Asian, African and Latin American Cultures Extended eye contact can be taken as an affront or a challenge of authority. Generally, only sporadic or brief eye contact is considered acceptable. This is particularly true in Asian cultures where people are from different professions or social levels. For example, in China and Japan, children show respect to elders by not making intense eye contact; employees would not make eye contact with employers; students would not force eye contact with teachers, etc. These cultures do not view avoiding looking someone in the eyes as rude or disinterested, or even as necessarily being submissive. Instead, avoiding eye contact is usually interpreted as being simply being polite or reverent. The rule of thumb in Asia, Africa, and Latin American cultures is to be careful about the eye contact you make with anyone that could be seen as a social (or workplace) superior. Staring at a superior will be seen as a challenge or as a sign of disrespect. Eye Contact Etiquette in Middle Eastern Cultures In general, Middle Eastern cultures, particularly among Muslims, do not see as direct eye contact between the sexes as being appropriate. Business women traveling to the Middle East may draw attention simply for being different and some men may try to make eye contact. However, be advised that making or holding eye contact can communicate the message that your interest is less than casual or curious. If you are doing business with another woman, intense eye contact within your own gender is often used to stress the truthfulness of a point and is considered acceptable. I hope I helped! Kind regards, Ludwig Eckl Innovative Imaging Concepts Inc. Advanced Image Concepts www.Innovative-Imaging.net 71 www.Advanced-Image-Concepts.com
  • 72. 72

×