As an industry, we are starved of eye contact. Everyone is walking around with square eyes. Our screens give us so much – who needs to actually look a human directly in the eye?
Well, we do, because we are still in the business of people. And face-to-face will always win.
I know it can be hard – perhaps you’d rather be browsing hilarious memes? And some argue eye contact can be intimidating. But if used right, it leads to a greater trust between individuals.
Our eyes connect us, and the power that comes from that is undervalued. A study in the Journal of Participatory Medicine found that patients who experienced a lack of eye contact from their doctor felt they displayed a "lack of care" to them.
This directly translates to the client and agency meeting room. Would you sign off an idea if you felt the people behind it didn’t really care?
A lack of eye contact also denotes insecurity. We can’t allow any insecurity to creep into our demeanour – our industry needs us to confidently, and consistently, back great work. So here are a few things you can do to raise your eye-contact game.
If someone comes over to your desk, put the lid of your laptop down. Yes, it’s annoying losing those few seconds afterwards when the Wi-Fi reconnects. But, I promise you, it’s worth it.
When you are out at an event, switch your phone off. The people around you are way more fun and interesting than Kanye’s latest Twitter rant.
If you want something from someone, listen to what they have to say – and make sure you don’t lose their eye. That way, you are showing that you do genuinely care about what they think – it’s amazing what people will agree to when you look them directly in the eye.
But remember, eye contact only works if the other person wants to be in the conversation. Otherwise, you’ll just get reported to HR for staring.
Anna Carpen is the executive creative director at 18 Feet & Rising.