“Look me in the eye and tell me you did not hit your brother!” Any parent knows that the eyes are the ultimate lie detector. They are the mirror to the soul, the barometer of emotion and the great revealer of attention deficit. Likewise, if you want to show someone your passion, confidence or sincerity, you want to do it face to face if possible… because your eyes give you an edge in delivering your message.
Why then do so many of us squander face-to-face opportunities by looking away, watching TV or checking a text message when we’re talking with someone in person? I’m guilty. I have caught myself doing of all of these from time to time.
The message this behavior sends is “you are not as important as whatever it is I am looking at.” Even if you are completely tuned in with your ears, your eyes show that you don’t care. Is this the way you want to be perceived by your boss, your spouse or your friends?
I understand that technology has now put our social network at our fingertips 24/7, and there are so many amazing connections, experiences and knowledge this has brought to our lives. But should we let it interfere with the sacred opportunity of connecting with another human being?
Have you watched teenagers and the way they communicate today? They can snap instantly from being fully present with your conversation to another world in the palm of their hand. It’s an instant message that must be answered instantly. My natural reaction is to stop talking when I lose the eye contact.
After 5 seconds of awkward silence, I hear the multi-tasking teen say “Go on I’m listening.”
I reply, “No, that’s OK. I’ll wait.”
When the text message is complete, they return to the regularly scheduled program with you. And the funny thing is… there’s typically no feeling of rudeness on their part. This is the way they communicate all day long with their friends. Sadly, this may be an un-reversible trend.
Let’s try a social experiment together. The next time an iphone or crackberry addict checks out of a conversation with you, just stop talking in mid-sentence and turn and walk away. They will look up after 20 seconds and wonder if you were abducted by aliens. Of course YOU will probably be perceived as the rude one, but you’ll make a point.
Let’s make a better effort to be fully present with each other. Unless you’re a doctor being called to emergency surgery, the text can wait. If the eyes truly are the mirror to the soul, what kind of soul do you want to show to the world?