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Chapter 8


George Bush, Binoculars With Caps On
Some men have the ability to see through solid surfaces

Throughout history, we have been preoccupied with the eyes and their effect on human behavior. Eye contact regulates conversation, gives cues of dominance, 'He looked down his nose at me' or forms the basis for suspecting a liar, 'Look me in the eye when you say that!' We spend much of our face-to-face time looking at the other person's face, so eye signals are a vital part of being able to read a person's attitude and thoughts. When people meet for the first time they make a series of quick judgements about each other, based largely on what they see.

We use phrases such as 'She looked daggers at him', 'He had that gleam in his eye', 'She has big baby eyes', 'He has shifty eyes', 'She has inviting eyes', 'She gave him a look to kill', 'She gave an icy stare' or 'He gave me the evil eye'. We also say a person has Bette Davis eyes, Spanish eyes, bedroom eyes, hard, angry, blank, private, sad, happy, defiant, cold, jealous, unforgiving and piercing eyes. When we use these phrases we are unwittingly referring to the size of the person's pupils and to his gaze behavior. The eyes can be the most revealing and accurate of all human communication signals because they are a focal point on the body and the pupils work independently of conscious control.

The Dilating Pupils

In given light conditions, your pupils will dilate or contract as your attitude and mood change from positive to negative and vice versa. When someone becomes excited, their pupils can dilate to up to four times their original size. Conversely, an angry, negative mood causes the pupils to contract to what are commonly known as 'beady little eyes' or 'snake eyes'. Lighter eyes can look more attractive because it's easier to see the dilation taking place.

Beady Eyes
'Beady' eyes

Eckhard Hess, a former head of the Department of Psychology at the University of Chicago and pioneer of the studies of pupillometry, found that pupil size is affected by one's general state of arousal. In general, pupil size increases when people view something that stimulates them. Hess found that the pupils of both heterosexual men and women dilate when viewing pin-ups of the opposite sex and constrict when viewing same-sex pin-ups. Similar findings have also been obtained when people were asked to look at pleasant or unpleasant pictures including foods, political figures, a disabled child or war scenes, or when listening to music. Hess also found that increases in pupil size are positively correlated with mental activity associated with problem solving, reaching maximum dilation as a person arrives at the solution.

This research is readily applied to the business world. People consistently rate models in photographs as more attractive if the photo has been altered to make the pupil area larger. This is an effective way to increase the sales of any product that use a close-up of the face, such as women's cosmetics, hair products and clothing. Real world tests have shown us increased sales of cosmetics by merely enlarging the pupil size of the models in the photographs used in media for marketing campaigns.

Woman's Eyes Contracted and Dilated Pupils
Which picture do you find more attractive?

The eyes are a key signal in courtship and the purpose of eye make-up is to emphasize eye display. If a woman is attracted to a man, she will dilate her pupils at him and he is likely to decode this signal correctly without knowing it. This is why romantic encounters are most successful in dimly lit places because everyone's pupils dilate and create the impression that couples are interested in each other.

When a man is excited by a woman, which part of his body can grow to almost three times its size?

When lovers gaze deep into each other's eyes, they are unknowingly looking for pupil-dilation signals and each becomes excited by the dilation of the other's pupils. Research has shown that when pornographic films are shown to men their pupils can dilate to almost three times their size. Most women's pupils gave the greatest dilation when looking at pictures of mothers and babies. Young babies and children have larger pupils than adults, and babies' pupils constantly dilate when adults are present in an attempt to look as appealing as possible and therefore receive constant attention. This is why the bestselling children's toys almost always have oversized pupils.

Research also shows that pupil dilation has a reciprocal effect on the person who sees the dilated pupils. Men looking at pictures of women with dilated pupils showed greater pupil dilation than when they looked at pictures of women with constricted pupils.

Take the Pupil Test

The ability to decode pupil dilation is hardwired into the brain and happens completely automatically. To test this, cover illustration B with your hand and ask someone to stare at the 'pupils' in illustration A. Then switch them to staring at illustration B and you'll see how their pupils dilate to match the illustration, because their brain thinks it's looking at eyes that find it attractive. Women's pupils dilate faster than men's to create rapport with what their brain sees as another person's eyes.

Eye Pupils ContractedEye Pupils Dilated
Pupils Contracted and Pupils Dilated

Hess conducted a pupil response experiment by showing five pictures to respondents: a naked male, a naked female, a baby, a mother and baby, and a landscape. Predictably, men's pupils dilated most at the naked female, gay men dilated most at the naked male but women's pupils dilated most at the picture of the mother and baby with the naked male picture coming in second.

Tests conducted with expert card players show that fewer games were won by the experts when their opponents wore dark glasses. For example, if an opponent was dealt four aces in a game of poker, his rapid pupil dilation could be unconsciously detected by the expert, who would 'sense' he should not bet on the next hand. Dark glasses worn by the opponents eliminated pupil signals and, as a result, the experts won fewer hands than usual.

Pupil decoding was used by the ancient Chinese gem traders who watched for the pupil dilation of their buyers when negotiating prices. Centuries ago, prostitutes put drops of belladonna, a tincture containing atropine, into their eyes to dilate their pupils and to make themselves appear more desirable.

David Bowie's Eyes
David Bowie had different-colored eyes - one blue and one hazel - and one was permanently dilated. Bowie's eye variations were the result of a fight over a girlfriend at the ripe old age of 12.

An old cliche says, 'Look a person in the eye when you talk to them' when you are communicating or negotiating, but it's better to practice 'looking them in the pupil' as the pupils will tell you their real feelings.

Women Are Better at It, as Usual

Dr Simon Baron-Cohen at Cambridge University conducted some tests where subjects were shown photographs in which only a narrow strip of the face across both eyes was visible. The subjects were asked to choose between mental states expressed in the photographs such as 'friendly', 'relaxed', 'hostile' and 'worried' and attitudes such as 'desire for you' and 'desire for someone else'.

Statistically, pure guess work would result in half the answers being correct but men's average score was 19 out of 25 while women scored 22 out of 25. This test shows that both sexes have a greater ability to decode eye signals than body signals and that women are better at it than men. Scientists don't yet know how this eye information is sent or decoded, they simply know that we can do it. Autistic people - who are nearly all males - scored the lowest. Autistic brains lack the ability to read people's body language and this is one reason why autistic people have difficulty in forming social relationships, even though many have very high IQs.

Giving Them the Eye

Humans are the only primates that have whites of the eye, known as the sclera - apes' eyes are completely dark. The white of the eye evolved as a communication aid to allow humans to see where other people were looking, because direction is linked to emotional states. Women's brains have more hardwiring than men's to read emotions, and one consequence of this is that women have more white of the eye than men. Apes lack eye-whites, which means that their prey don't know where the ape is looking or whether they have been spotted, giving the ape a greater chance of hunting success.

Humans are the only primates with pronounced whites of the eye.

The Eyebrow Flash

This gesture is a long-distance 'hello' greeting signal which has been used everywhere since ancient times. The Eyebrow Flash is universal and is also used by monkeys and apes as a social greeting signal, confirming that it's an inborn gesture. The eyebrows rise rapidly for a split second and then drop again and its purpose is to draw attention to the face so that clear signals can be exchanged. The only culture that doesn't use it is the Japanese, where it's considered improper or impolite and has definite sexual connotations.

Eyebrow Flash
The Eyebrow Flash

This is an unconscious signal that acknowledges the other person's presence and is probably linked to the fear reaction of being surprised, or saying, 'I'm surprised and afraid of you', which translates to 'I acknowledge you and am not threatening'. We don't Eyebrow Flash strangers we pass in the street or people we don't like, and people who don't give the Eyebrow Flash on initial greeting are perceived as potentially aggressive. Try this simple test and you'll discover first hand the power of the Eyebrow Flash - sit in the lobby of a hotel and Eyebrow Flash everyone who goes past. You'll see that not only do others return the Flash and smile, many will come over and begin to talk to you. The golden rule is always Eyebrow Flash people you like or those who you want to like you.

Eye Widening

Lowering the eyebrows is how humans show dominance or aggression towards others, whereas raising the eyebrows shows submission. Researchers Keating & Keating found that several species of apes and monkeys use exactly the same gestures for the same purpose. They also found that people who intentionally raise their eyebrows are perceived as submissive by both humans and apes, and that those who lower them are perceived as aggressive.

Women can widen their eyes by raising their eyebrows and eyelids to create the 'baby face' appearance of a small infant. This has a powerful effect on men by releasing hormones into the brain, which stimulate the desire to protect and defend females. Women pluck and redraw their eyebrows higher up the forehead to appear more submissive because, on a subconscious level at least, they know it appeals to men. If men trim their eyebrows they do it from the top of the eyebrow down to make their eyes appear narrower and more authoritative.

Marilyn MonroeJames CagneyJohn F Kennedy
High-placed eyebrows gave Marilyn Monroe a submissive appearance while low-set eyebrows gave James Cagney his aggressive look and John F Kennedy's turned-in eyebrows made him appear both authoritative and concerned

John F Kennedy had what are known as 'medially down-turned' eyebrows, which gave his face a permanently concerned look that appealed to voters. If he'd had big bushy eyebrows like actor James Cagney's he would have had a less powerful impact on the electorate.

The 'Looking Up' Cluster

Young Princess Diana
Princess Diana at the age of eight - like most young girls, she silently understood the impact of putting the head down and looking up

Lowering the head and looking up is another submissive gesture that appeals to men because it makes the eyes appear larger and makes a woman appear more childlike. This is because children are so much smaller than adults and spend their looking time gazing up and this creates a parenting reaction in both men and women.

Princess Diana
Princess Diana used the 'Looking Up' cluster to evoke world empathy during her marital problems

Princess Diana made an art form out of keeping her chin down while looking up and exposing her vulnerable neck. This child like gesture cluster triggered maternal and paternal reactions towards her in millions of people, especially when she seemed to be under attack by the British Royal Family. People who use these submissive clusters usually don't practice them consciously but know that when they use them, they get a result

How To Light The Fire In Men

Sexy Marilyn Monroe
Marilyn Monroe was the master of using female pre-orgasmic expressions and body language, and she understood, at least on a subconscious level, how it could make most men go weak at the knees

Lowering the eyelids while simultaneously raising the eyebrows, looking up and slightly parting the lips is a cluster that has been used by women for centuries to show sexual submissiveness. This is one of the trademarks of the sex sirens in entertainment such as Marilyn Monroe, Deborah Harry and Sharon Stone.

Not only does this gesture maximize the distance between the eyelid and eyebrows, it also gives the person a mysterious, secretive look and new research shows that this is the expression many women have on their faces immediately before having an orgasm.

Gaze behavior-Where Do You Look?

It is only when you see 'eye to eye' with another person that a real basis for communication can be established. While some people can make us feel comfortable when they talk with us, others make us feel ill at ease and some seem untrustworthy. Initially, this has to do with the length of time that they look at us or with how long they hold our gaze as they speak.

Michael Argyle, a pioneer of social psychology and nonverbal communication skills in Britain, found that when Westerners and Europeans talk, their average gaze time is around 60%, consisting of 40% gaze time when talking, 75% when listening and 30% mutual gazing. He recorded the average gaze length to be 3 seconds and the length of a mutual gaze was 1.5 seconds. The amount of eye contact in a typical conversation ranges from 25% to 100%, depending on who's talking and what culture they're from. When we talk we maintain 40 to 60% eye contact with an average of 80% eye contact when listening. The notable exception to this rule is Japan and some Asian and South American cultures, where extended eye contact is seen as aggressive or disrespectful. The Japanese tend to look away or at your throat, which can be disconcerting for culturally inexperienced Westerners and Europeans.

Argyle found that when person A likes person B, he will look at him a lot. This causes B to think that A likes him, so B will like A in return. In other words, in most cultures, to build a good rapport with another person, your gaze should meet theirs about 60% to 70% of the time. This will also cause them to begin to like you. It is not surprising, therefore, that the nervous, timid person who meets our gaze less than one-third of the time is rarely trusted. This is also why, in negotiations, dark tinted glasses should be avoided as they make others feel you are either staring at them or trying to avoid them.

He married her for her looks, but not the ones she's been giving him lately.

As with most body language and gestures, the length of time that one person gazes at another can be culturally determined Always be sure to consider cultural circumstances before jumping to conclusions. The safest rule when travelling to places such as Japan is to mirror the gaze time of your hosts.

When two people meet and make eye contact for the first time, it's usually the person who is subordinate who looks away first. This means that not looking away becomes a subtle way to deliver a challenge or show disagreement when someone gives their opinion or point of view. Where the status of the other person is higher, however, for example, the person is your boss, you can send a clear message of disagreement by holding his gaze for only several seconds longer than would be usually acceptable. But it's not a good idea to do this regularly with your boss if you want to keep your job.

How to Keep Eye Contact in a Nudist Colony

Social researchers sent a group of non-nudists to a nudist colony and took a video of where they were looking when they were introduced to new people. All the non-nudist men reported that they had trouble resisting the urge to look down and the video replay showed how obvious it was when they did look down. The women said they did not experience these problems and rarely was a woman filmed intentionally gazing towards the pelvic area. This is because men are equipped with a form of tunnel vision that makes them far better than women at seeing directly in front of them and over long distances for spotting targets. Most men's close range and peripheral vision is far poorer than women's, however, which is why men have difficulty seeing things in refrigerators, cupboards and drawers. Women's peripheral vision extends to at least 45 degrees to each side, above and below, which means she can appear to be looking at someone's face while, at the same time, she is checking out their other personal assets.

US Olympic Rowing Team
Women's wider peripheral vision lets them appear to be looking in one direction when they are, in fact, looking in another.

How to Grab a Man's Attention

When a woman wants to get a man's attention across a room she will meet his gaze, hold it for two to three seconds, then look away and down. This gaze is long enough for her to send him a message of interest and potential submission. An experiment by Monika Moore PhD, of Websters University, showed that most men are not hardwired to read a woman's first gaze signal so she usually needs to repeat it three times before the average man picks up on it, four times for really slow men and five or more times for the especially thick. When she finally gets his attention she will often use a small version of the Eyebrow Flash that is a small, subtle eye-widening gesture that tells him the signal was intended for him.

Sometimes a simple face-to-face verbal approach of 'Hey, I like you!' is more effective on men who are slow on the uptake.

Most Liars Look You in the Eye

Many people associate lying with looking away. In a series of experiments participants were told to tell a series of lies to others in interview videos. Viewers of the videos were asked to judge who was lying and who was not. What was discovered was contrary to a popular belief about liars. Approximately 30% of the liars constantly looked away when they lied and the viewers spotted these lies around 80% of the time, with women having a better catch rate than men. The other 70% of the liars maintained strong eye contact with their victim, assuming they were less likely to get caught if they did the opposite of what people expected. They were right. Lie-catching dropped to an average of 25%, with men scoring a dismal 15% success and women 35%. Women's more intuitive brains were better than men's in detecting voice changes, pupil dilation and other cues that gave the liar away. This shows that gaze alone is not a reliable signal of lying and you need to observe other gestures as well.

When a person's gaze meets yours for more than two-thirds of the time, it can mean one of two things: first, he finds you interesting or appealing, in which case he'll also have dilated pupils; or second, he's hostile towards you and could be issuing a challenge, in which case the pupils will be constricted. As mentioned, women are good at deciphering pupil signals and can differentiate interest from aggression, but men are significantly worse at doing it. This is why the average man can't tell if a woman is about to give him a kiss or a slap in the face.

How to Avoid being Attacked or Abused

Most primates avert their gaze to show submission. If an ape is going to display aggression or is likely to attack, it will lock eyes onto its victim. To avoid being attacked, the victim win look away and try to make itself appear smaller. Scientific evidence shows that submission behavior appears to be hardwired into primate brains for survival reasons. Under attack, we make ourselves appear smaller by hunching our shoulders, pulling our arms in close to the body, pressing our knees together and locking our ankles under a chair, dropping our chin to the chest to protect the throat and averting our gaze by looking away. These gestures activate an 'off switch' in the brain of the aggressor and the attack can be avoided.

Making yourself appear smaller turns off the aggression switch in an aggressor's brain.

This is an ideal position to take if you are being reprimanded by a superior when you actually deserve the reprimand, but it would be detrimental against a random street attack. From a person who is walking past a group of possible assailants in the street it would signal fear and this can contribute to inciting an attack. If you walk upright with larger movements, swinging your arms and legs and having your front open, you will project that you could defend yourself if necessary and so are less likely to be attacked.

The Sideways Glance

The Sideways Glance is used to communicate interest, uncertainty or hostility. When it is combined with slightly raised eyebrows or a smile, it communicates interest and is frequently used as a courtship signal, mostly by women. If it is clustered with down-turned eyebrows, furrowed brow or the corners of the mouth down-turned, it signals a suspicious, hostile or critical attitude.

Extended Blinking

A normal, relaxed blinking rate is six to eight blinks per minute and the eyes are closed for only about one tenth of a second. People under pressure, for instance when they are lying, are likely to dramatically increase their blinking rate.

Extended Blinking is an unconscious attempt by the person's brain to block you from their sight because they've become bored or disinterested or feel they're superior to you. It's as if their brain can no longer tolerate dealing with you so their eyes shut for two to three seconds or longer to wipe you from sight and remain closed as the person momentarily removes you from his mind.

Shutting You Out
Shutting you out

Superior types may also tilt their head back to give you a 'long look', commonly known as 'looking down one's nose'; this is also done by a person who feels that their importance is not being noticed. This is mainly a Western cultural gesture and a speciality of English people who feel they are upper-class. If you see this happening during a conversation, it's a signal that you're not doing well and that a new tack is needed. If you believe the person is simply arrogant, try this: when they've closed their eyes for the third or fourth time, quickly step a pace to your left or right. When their eyelids lift again, it gives the illusion that you've disappeared and materialized in another place and this can really rattle them. If the person also starts snoring, you can safely assume that your communication has failed.

Darting Eyes

When the eyes dart from side to side it can look as if the person is checking out the activity in the room but the reality is that the brain is searching for escape routes (just as happens in monkeys and apes), revealing a person's insecurity about what is happening.

When you are with a particularly boring individual, your natural urge is to look away for escape routes. But because most of us are aware that looking away shows a lack of interest in the other person and signals our desire to escape, we look more at the boring individual and use a Tight-Lipped Smile to feign interest. This behavior parallels what liars are doing when they increase their eye contact to appear convincing.

The Geography of the Face

The geographical area of a person's face and body that you gaze upon can also dramatically affect the outcome of a face-to-face encounter.

When you've finished reading this next section, try out the techniques discussed - without warning anyone - and you'll experience the powerful effect these skills can have. It takes about a week of practice for these eye techniques to become a normal part of your communication skills.

There are three basic types of gazing: Social Gazing, Intimate Gazing and Power Gazing.

1. The Social Gaze

Experiments into gazing reveal that during social encounters the gazer's eyes look in a triangular area on the other person's face between the eyes and the mouth for about 90% of the gaze time.

This is the area of the face we look at in a non-threatening environment. The other person will perceive you as non-aggressive.

Social Gaze Area
The Social Gazing area

2. The Intimate Gaze

When people approach each other from a distance, they look quickly between the other person's face and lower body to first establish what the sex of the person is and then a second time to determine a level of interest in them. This gaze is across the eyes and below the chin to lower parts of the person's body. In close encounters, it's the triangular area between the eyes and the chest and for distant gazing it's from the eyes to the groin or below.

Men and women use this gaze to show interest in each other and those who are interested will return the gaze. We usually give two quick glances and then look at their face and, despite most people's strong denials about it, hidden camera studies reveal that everyone does it, including nuns.

Intimate Gaze Zone
The Intimate Gaze zone

As noted earlier, a woman's wider-ranging peripheral vision, however, allows her to check out a man's body from head to toe without getting caught. Male tunnel vision is why a man will move his gaze up and down a woman's body in a very obvious way. This is also the reason why men are constantly accused of checking out women's bodies visually at close range but women are rarely accused of the same, even though research shows that women do more of it than men. It's not that men gawk more than women - men's tunnel vision means they keep getting caught.

Women's Superior Peripheral Vision
Women's wider peripheral vision means never getting caught; Men's Tunnel Vision means always getting caught
Women Checking Out Man's ButtMan Checking Out Woman's Butt
Then of course quite commonly ... neither gender is particularly subtle

Looking down towards the ground during conversation serves different purposes for men and women. For a man, it lets him give a woman the once over. For a woman, it has the dual purpose of letting her check him out and at the same time send a submissive signal of looking away and down.

Why do men have trouble making eye contact?
Breasts don't have eyes.

3. The Power Gaze

Power Gaze
The Power Gaze

Imagine the person has a third eye in the center of their forehead and look in a triangular area between the person's 'three' eyes. The impact this gaze has on the other person has to be experienced to be believed.

Not only does it change the atmosphere to very serious, it can stop a bore dead in their tracks. By keeping your gaze directed at this area, you keep the screws firmly on them.

Provided your gaze doesn't drop below the level of their eyes, the pressure will stay on them. Never use this in friendly or romantic encounters. But it works a treat on the person who you want to intimidate or on the person who simply won't shut up.

The Power Stare

If you have soft, weak or wimpy eyes practice using the Power Stare to give yourself more authority. When you are under attack from someone, try not to blink while maintaining eye contact. When you look at the attacker, narrow your eyelids and focus closely on the person. This is what predatory animals do just before they strike their prey. When you pan your eyes from one person to another without blinking it has an unnerving effect on anyone who watches you do it.

The Terminator
Don't mess with the Terminator

To do this, move your eyeballs first and then let your head follow, but your shoulders should remain still. The Power Stare was used by Arnold Schwarzenegger as The Terminator and can strike fear into the hearts of would-be intimidators. Better still, have a policy of dealing only with pleasant people so you'll never need to whip out your Power Stare.

The Politician's Story

When someone looks around from side to side or will not look us in the eye when they talk, our trust in their credibility diminishes significantly, even though they may be doing it because of shyness. A business associate had a politician as a client who was a novice at being interviewed on TV, constantly flicking his eyes between reporters and the cameras through an interview. This had the effect of making him look shifty-eyed to third party viewers and each time he appeared on TV his popularity decreased. Through training him to look at only the reporter and ignore the cameras, his credibility increased. Another politician was trained to address his answers mainly to the lens of the television camera when he participated in a televised political debate. While this alienated the 200 studio audience guests it impressed millions of television viewers, who felt as if the politician was talking directly to them.

Look Deep Into My Eyes, Baby

A social experiment was conducted using a dating service for a public media channel program. A selected number of men were told that a woman was well matched to them and that they should expect to have a good time on a date. To make this connection interesting, each man was told that his date had suffered an injury to one eye as a child which she was very sensitive about because the eye didn't track properly. The injured eye was unknown these men were told but if he looked closely he'd be able to pick it out. Each woman was also told the same story about her date and that if she too looked closely she'd be able to spot the slow eye. On their dates, the couples spent the evening gazing into each other's eyes searching in vain for the 'problem eye'. The outcome was that each couple reported high levels of intimacy and romance on their dates and the likelihood of the couple meeting again for a second date was 200% higher than the dating service average.

Extended gazing can create intimate feelings.

The First 20 Seconds of an Interview

Many people are taught that, in a sales or job interview, you should maintain strong eye contact with the other person and keep it up until you are seated. This creates problems for both the interviewer and interviewee because it's contrary to the process we like to go through when we meet someone new. A man wants to check out a woman's hair, legs, body shape and overall presentation. If she maintains eye contact it restricts this process so he's left trying to steal glances at her during the interview without getting caught and so he becomes distracted from the actual job of interviewing. Some women are disappointed that, in a supposedly equal business world, men still do this, but hidden cameras show this to be a fact of business life whether we like it or not.

Like it or not, everyone steals a look at a woman's rear when she leaves a room, even if they don't like her front view.

Video cameras also reveal that women interviewers go through the same evaluation process with both male and female interviewees but women's wider peripheral vision means they rarely get caught. Women are also more critical than men of female interviewees whose appearance doesn't stack up. Women look at a male candidate's hair length, clothes design and co-ordination, the creases in his pants and shine on his shoes. Most men are completely unaware that women look at the condition of the back of his shoes as he walks out.


When you go for an interview, shake hands and then give the interviewer a two- to three-second frame of uninterrupted time for them to complete the process of looking you over. Look down to open your briefcase or folder, or to arrange any papers you might need, turn to hang up your coat, or move your chair in closer, and then look up. In filming sales interviews, we found that not only did the interviews feel better for the salespeople who used this strategy, it added up to a better outcome in sales results.

What Channel Are You Tuned To?

A person's eye movements can reveal what their mind is focusing on by telling you whether they are remembering something they have seen, heard, smelled, tasted or touched. This technique is a development of American psychologists Grinder and Bandler and is known as Neurolinguistic Programming, or NLP.

In simple terms, if a person is remembering something that they saw, their eyes will move upward. If they are recalling something they heard, they look to the side and tilt their head as if listening. If they are recalling a feeling or emotion, they'll look down and to the right. When a person is mentally talking to themselves, they look down and to the left.

Recalling a PictureRecalling a Sound
Recalling A Picture (up to left) and Recalling A Sound (to left)

Recalling a FeelingTalking to Oneself
Recalling A Feeling (down to right) and Talking To Oneself (down to left)

The difficulty is that these eye movements can occur in a fraction of a second and come in clusters making it harder to read 'live'. A videotape replay, however, can let you see discrepancies between what a person says and what they really think.

Thirty-five per cent of people prefer the visual information channel and will use phrases such as 'I see what you mean' 'Can you look into that?', 'That's perfectly clear' or 'Can you show me that?' and you will get their attention by showing them photos, charts and graphs and asking if they 'Get the picture'.

Twenty-five per cent prefer the auditory channel and use words such as 'That rings a bell', 'I hear you', 'That doesn't sound right' and that they want to be 'in tune' with you. The other 40% prefer the feelings channel and will say 'Let's kick that idea around', 'Our department needs a shot in the arm', 'I can't quite grasp what you're saying'. They love to test drive things and be involved in a demonstration so that they can 'grasp the idea'.

How to Hold Eye Contact with an Audience

In audiences of up to 50 people it's possible to meet the gaze of each individual, letting them feel involved and keeping their attention. In larger groups you usually stand further back, so a different approach is needed. By pegging a real or imaginary point or person at each corner of the group and one in the center, when you stand at a distance of 10 yards (10m) from the front row, approximately 20 people in a group of up to 50 will feel you are looking at them individually as you speak and so you can create an intimate bond with most of your audience.

How to Present Visual Information

When you are giving a visual presentation using books, charts, graphs or a laptop it's important to know how to control where the other person is looking. Research shows that of the information relayed to the brain in visual presentations, 83% comes via the eyes, 11% via the ears, and 6% through the other senses.

Impact of a Visual Presentation
Impact on the brain of information from the senses during a visual presentation

A study at the Wharton school in Pennsylvania found that the retention of verbal presentations was only 10%. This means that a verbal presentation requires frequent repetition of key points to be effective. By comparison, the retention rate of combined verbal and visual presentations is 50%. This means you will achieve a 400% increase in efficiency through the use of visual aids. The study also found that using visual aids cuts the average business meeting time from 25 minutes to 18 minutes - a 28% time saving.

The Power Lift

To keep control of where a person is looking, use a pen to point to the presentation and, at the same time, verbalize what he sees. Next, lift the pen from the presentation and hold it between his eyes and your eyes. This has the magnetic effect of lifting his head so that now he is looking at you and he sees and hears what you are saying, achieving maximum absorption of your message. Keep the palm of your other hand open when you are speaking.

The Power Lift
The Power Lift - using the pen to control where a person looks during a presentation

Women hold more direct eye contact than men during presentations, especially when they are not talking. When women are talking, however, they avert their eyes more than men do.

Men stare more at women than vice versa and men give less direct eye contact when listening to other men than when listening to women.


Where you direct your gaze has a powerful impact on the outcome of a face-to-face encounter. If you were a manager who was going to give a piece of your mind to an employee who was out of line or a parent reprimanding a child, which gaze would you use? If you use Social Gazing, the sting would be taken out of your words, regardless of how loud or threatening you might try to sound. Social Gazing would weaken your words but Intimate Gazing could either intimidate or embarrass them. Power Gazing, however, has a powerful effect on the receiver and tells them you mean business.

Using the right gaze gives credibility.

What men describe as the 'come-on' look that women use relates to a sideways glance, dilated pupils and Intimate Gazing. If a woman wants to play hard to get, she needs to avoid using an Intimate Gaze and use Social Gazing instead. But most men miss a lot of it anyway. To use a Power Gaze during courting would leave a man or woman labelled as cold or unfriendly. When you use an Intimate Gaze on a potential partner, however, you give the game away. Women are expert at sending and receiving this gaze but, unfortunately, most men are not. When men use the Intimate Gaze it's usually blatantly obvious to women and men are generally unaware of having been given an Intimate Gaze by a woman, much to the frustration of the woman who gave it.

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