Windows to The Soul #46
Eye contact. For some it’s easy, for others, it’s uncomfortable. I was working with a team today learning about communication. We did a brief exercise which involved one minute of eye contact. Nothing more, simply eye contact.
Once completed, the participants discussed their experiences. It’s always interesting to hear the range of what’s occurred for people during this 60 second exercise. For several, they found it to be challenging to say the least – one commented “that was the longest minute of my life.” For several others, they mentioned discomfort at first, followed by peace, or feeling centered and grounded. A few others couldn’t get comfortable and avoided eye contact altogether.
This isn’t surprising in a business setting. Making eye contact is a vulnerable activity and we’re taught many things about what it means to do so for any length of time. Comments about the exercise referred to the activity as “staring someone down, awkwardly looking and passionately gazing” at the other person. The instructions are neutral, the people brought all the awkward.
When those who had had a peaceful, grounded experience shared how quickly it occurred and how much they enjoyed it, the other people struggled to believe them.
I closed the exercise by asking everyone if they had ever held a baby. All of them had. I asked them “what typically happens when you do so?” It was unanimous; there was instant recognition that you make and maintain eye contact, immediately experiencing the peace and deep connectedness with another human all while the world around you fades away. There are no rules with babies. We do this naturally. Instinctively.
Perhaps this is what Shakespeare meant when he said “the eyes are the window to the soul.”