There are a few Best Practices I’ve found help me through life. I’m going to post the list here on a page of the same name, just for the record. I may also decide to add to my list, and you may decide to adopt a few of these and make a list for yourself. You see? It is a very fluid list!
The first item on my list is:
Use Eye Contact
When was the last time you made a conscious effort to use eye contact? I’m going to guess it was either when you were interviewing for a job, or the last time you were telling a lie. Let me give you a little tip. Overusing eye contact when someone is trying to determine if you are guilty of something is a dead giveaway that you are. But I digress.
Why is eye contact a good idea during a job interview? Because it helps you connect with people. And if your potential new boss connects with you, you are more likely to win her over. It works that way out in the world too. Can you think of anything our world needs more than honest to goodness, face-to-face connection?
As a little experiment before you go adding this to your Best Practices list, I’d like to challenge you to use eye contact in the different scenarios you encounter during your week. You may find this harder than you thought. Eye avoidance isn’t just for shy people any more! In my opinion, society has come to place multi-tasking at too high of value, and we are all too busy looking somewhere else when should be looking someone in the eye.
The first thing you will notice when you meet someone’s eyes is that they will almost always smile. If you are not already smiling, you will probably smile back. There is proven evidence that just smiling alone can make you happy. See? You have already started making the world a happier place!
- At work. This is best if you actually greet the public at your work. If you are handing over a shopping cart, a bag of purchases, a plate of food, change, or whatever it is you are offering, try to meet their eyes and give them a sincere thank you. You may even experience a double-take, as if they think there is something wrong, or they might know you.
- Shaking a hand. The worst handshake I ever had was from a pastor. He grasped my hand firmly while shaking and telling me how nice it was to see me, yet he was looking at the next person he wanted to greet. That was my first impression of him, and let me tell you it went downhill from there. You can gain a lot of information from a handshake. Make sure you are looking someone in the eye when you send out your own impression.
- Making a Purchase. You could be just another customer, or you could be that one person that the cashier remembers at the end of the day. He’s a real person who spends a long day getting money shoved across the counter at him. He probably has all kinds of places he would rather be. Look your cashier in the eye and wish him a good day like you mean it.
- With your family. Feel free to hit the pause button to look your family in the eye while they talk to you. Both children and adults react positively to this simple act of patience, love, and compassion. Yet it takes so little effort.
You can expect awkwardness at first. You might be compelled to meet eyes and then pull away, turning your eyes to the ground. Of course, success depends on the other person meeting your eyes too. Sometimes no matter how hard you try you just can’t get the other eyes to connect. Eventually you may find you enjoy the game. So few people offer up this simple measure of connectedness. I’ve had some very interesting reactions. I challenge you to give it a try!
Peace . . .