close-eye-contactI was recently reading in one of my favorite magazines (American Scientific Mind) an interesting little article on why people are so much more apt to be mean to each other online. For a long time they thought it was the anonymity, but turns out it’s directly linked to a lack of eye contact with the recipient.

They conducted a study where people communicated with each other online in multiple contexts. Sometimes they were able to see a side view of each other through cameras, sometimes they were instructed to share intimate personal details, and other times they looked directly in each other’s eyes through webcams.

Those in the first two categories were 50% more likely to be antagonistic and ‘mean’ than those in the third category. That is, regardless of whether or not people could see a side view or know the other person’s name, age, occupation, etc… they were STILL more likely to be mean than if they were looking directly in the other person’s eyes. The conclusion? We’re more gentle with other people when we get immediate feedback on the effect we’re having on them, and eyes give away our emotional state.

How often are you looking into the eyes of other people as you talk to them or even pass them on the street? The most effective way of developing compassion is to truly understand another human being. We often say this is the most powerful aspect of personality psychology. However, if you want to get started in a simple actionable way, start being aware and focusing on other people’s eyes. Make eye contact even if it’s uncomfortable. Eyes are gateways to the soul, and watching the responses people have to every day events and encounters will tell you novels about them. Information easily becomes understanding, and understanding leads to compassion.

For more information, I recommend reading “The Power of Eye Contact” by Michael Ellsberg. Good stuff.

-Antonia

Showing 19 comments
  • Marcia
    Reply

    A wonderful discipline to practice! It’s something one can do immediately in one’s everyday life. It also occurs to me that it may be good Sensory practice for Intuitives.

  • john jeremiah conroy
    Reply

    Absolutely!!! Eye contact tells you a lot about the person.looking into ones eyes you can see tthe heart of the soul

  • john jeremiah conroy
    Reply

    When i met my soul mate samantha we both looked into each others eyes and we could see into each others souls and we both connected and clicked

  • Eva Gabrielle
    Reply

    Antonio;
    Thank you for a good article!!
    I believe this is correct.
    I had a good email friend. We used the cam a lot.
    Then his broke.
    After a couple of weeks, he became nasty.

    He has to get a new cam.

    Thanks again.

  • Melissa Curran
    Reply

    I often wondered why people are so nasty and mean online – this makes perfect sense. Now if you could just figure out why people are so angry? Everyone is so into all the social media and “tech” toys and the instant gratification that goes with it. Maybe when we don’t get instant gratification in our real life (vs. our computer life) that it makes some folks so angry that they take it out online.

    Personally, I choose to live my life with grace and ease instead of constant anger and nastiness. Call me a dreamer if you will, but I like my way much better!

    Very interesting post offering good insight – may I re-blog this article with credit? Thanks!

  • Evelyn Eaglesong
    Reply

    Antonia, you are an impressive soul . Grateful for the share. Would like your thoughts on this subject:
    I am an energy practitioner I see , advise and help others move energy. Also a medical intuitive , Lakota pipe carrier.
    My readings into the holographic universe to see auric fields have been both international and domestic.
    Years ago in Arizona I worked with a 90 year old swami at his yoga studio with his students to define and relay to them what their quantum blueprint was, what they were designed to be, to do, their mission so to speak. As a gift to the swamis request I did a before and after view of their quantum blueprint before and after yoga. It was amazing. I propose to use this gift for your students also.
    Your thoughts?
    Evelyn Eaglesong

  • Bruce (Relationship Coach)
    Reply

    Weird! I was just talking about Eye Contact, You and then Michel Ellsberg’s book last night. Then all 3 appear in this post today. Expect to see me on your doorstep in a few weeks. xo

  • JC
    Reply

    Thanks for sharing this article … it is true. I was taught as a young child to look people in the eyes when I am talking/visiting with them and have done this all my life. I noticed about 10 years ago that people don’t like being looked in the eyes, they were uncomfortable with me doing this, yes even my friends were uncomfortable. So I learned to periodically look away and glance around. But you can still get the benefits of eye contact as was stated in the article.

  • Briglatif
    Reply

    In army it. Is mandatory to look into the eyes of a person you are talking to. That makes it easy to know each others true feelings and also to keep the conversation courteous.

  • Ariane Jenssen
    Reply

    Hi, good morning Antonia!
    What you tell us is soo true. In the past one could go into an office and negotiate with people and it was ok. Now when its only possible to speak with people over the phone, I have an feeling of uncertainty,feeling not safe think every time I’ll get betrayed. And often it is really the case. Its also easier to put questions to the opposite partner when you sit opposite him or her Over the phone the respective questions come only after the speaker is put down. I have every time a bad feeling still long afterwords. But in this time the offices are only computers in one town of the country and people sit there, who most have another mother language, are not educated in speaking. It is often very confusing. I try to avoid it most of the times.
    Its better with Skype but there one has only friends and relations for this way. That is a great thing to be able to see the faces, the eyes, the reactions to what you are saying.. The new techniques try to globalize to concentrate, get more unpersonalized and unhuman. Often even one speaks with maschines!

  • Sanja
    Reply

    It’s true that people are meaner online than in real life due to lack of eye-contact, anonymity etc. But still, that’s what those people really think – they are just less likely to tell you in person. It’s sad how many people are racists, frustrated or just mean. In real-life contacts you don’t notice that quite so often, but when you are communicating online, it seems like most people are that way. It’s just that they are more open and honest online, because they care less about your reaction and possible consequences. But that is their true opinion. Really, it’s a sad world we live in.

  • KONRAD
    Reply

    AS HUMANS (OR HUMAN ANIMALS) WE ARE PROBABLY HARD WIRED TO DISCERN
    A LOT ABOUY EACH OTHER THROUGH EYE CONTACT. i BELEIVE IT’S A LANGUAGE ON TO ITSELF. WADDA YA THINK????

  • Frank Hahn
    Reply

    Antionia,
    Thanks for this, I am 53 yrs and have minimal eye contact with people throughout my life because of shakey eyes (I do not know the official term used by docs’s) but my eyes move ball around or shake and believe it I was really teased when very young by peers therefore I avoided looking into anothers eyes for at least to long, usually I can go for about the count of three and then avoid eyes, but after reading this artical I am going to try very hard to keep focused and even though I can feel my eyes move I will stay on the others eyes.
    maybe the world will change for me or at least a new adventure breaking habits.
    Thanks.
    Frank

  • Jerry
    Reply

    Antonia,

    This is an amazing article. I have been working on my own eye contact for the past year and I have found it helps tremendously in business and personal relationships. And just when I think I am doing it enough. I look back on an exchange and notice I have not been. It takes a lot of practice.

    Second my son is 13 and has Aspergers. And if you are familiar with this condition you know Aspies have terrible problems with eye contact. And they have debilitating social problems.

    I have always wondered why it is that he is treated so badly by so many people adults and other children. I think this is another piece of the puzzle. We have been working with him on eye contact. This definitely gives us more focus on this issue.

    Thanks,

    Jerry

    • janet
      Reply

      Hi Jerry,
      When working with any person who has trouble with eye contact, it is often because they cannot filter emotion… it all seems to come on too strong, too fast, and the protecting perspective of the spectrum of gentle to extreme seems missing. Therefore sometimes eye contact can be down right painful.
      One helpful hint here is to make “soft eyes,” when you are out in the wild and watching wild animals, if you look with intense focus (hard eyes) they move away. If you look with soft eyes, coming from only a loving heart, they are more comfortable. Glancing, looking around an animal is the same as a person with a non-working filter.
      I thought this might give you some ideas….
      it is often these people who are our greatest teachers….
      Janet

  • charley
    Reply

    Thanks for posting. That was awesome! 🙂

  • Pat Anderson
    Reply

    Hi Antonia,

    Interesting article, thanks. I am a Public Speaking coach, and I always emphasize to my students the absolute importance of eye contact…………………..So very very powerful!

    Looking forward to reading more of your stuff!

    Regards,

    Pat Anderson

  • janet
    Reply

    Antonia,
    When I came down to the USA from BC in 1964, I came from a small place where eye contact was a way of life, of communication, of comfort. I came from a mountain home to Portland OR to attend Lewis and Clark College, I learned much more than academics. I studied people, for to them, I was an anomaly. Did I want to fit into this strange culture? So much was side stepped or avoided.
    I found that people were sometimes actually repulsed by a person with direct eye contact. My little feminine 5’1 frame was frightening them just through my direct eye contact!
    I had to learn to look away from people as I walked down the St. I had to learn to use “soft eyes,” so I wouldn’t frighten people! I learned to glance and look deep, so that I could keep in touch with the person I was talking to.
    I learned many social games, only a few was I willing to play…

    The studies on connecting eyes at birth are so true!
    Janet

  • Mona C.
    Reply

    I have notice the rude behaviors on-line through blogs, but its very important to make eye-contact when communicating, I think it is the only way to receive everything from the other being you are in cummune with. We connect,we cummune, we give & we receive. This is sharing. This is unity, Unity is the Only reason we cummune, to give ,show/express, sharing that part of oneself. to notice anything we must look at it to see it. Focus on it, position oneself in alignment with that which is becoming 1 thru unity by connecting in cummuniation through the eyes for truth and propose in the moment. The eyes are the gate to the soul, the truth ,the root, the dark & the light,the whole and that is why u should make eye-contact to receive ALL you came to get & to give back graceful

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