Radical Thoughts: Eye Contact

I was thinking today about making eye contact.  I was thinking about how often I avoid the eyes of people while talking to them.  When I first moved to Chicago from Cincinnati I’d walk down the street just looking at all the people I encountered, smiling, saying “Hello.”  After a time I got out of that habit.  Everyone else was walking with their head down, staring at the each footstep they took or perhaps looking far ahead, looking beyond, not present in the moment at all.This feels like a loss to me.  So today I thought I’d reclaim that.  Today as I took my change back from the Starbucks guy I looked him in the eye and said, “Thank you” and he smiled.  Then as the barrista handed me my drink I looked her in the eye and said, “Thank you” and she smiled.  It took an extra millisecond to produce that smile.  It was rather gratifying I must say. I’m going to give you non literary homework this week…and that is to make eye contact…with your children, your spouse, your barrista, your gas station attendant…anyone you come across in your daily life.  See how that feels this week. 


11 thoughts on “Radical Thoughts: Eye Contact

  1. It seems so long since people used to do this naturally. Nowadays, when someone does it, we must ask if the returning smile is genuine, or in sympathy?

    Hmm….yeah, I didn’t think of that, Tony! Either you are more discerning than I or more paranoid….
    Mrs M

  2. Well, dang it, then, mrs., LOOK at me when I’m talkin’ to ya, k?! Actually, I did this at the gym this a.m., and it was wonderful. I have a new friend!

    That’s brilliant, beefy!
    Mrs M

  3. Hey there!

    This is something I always do. I look at everyone in the eye. I think I should have been an opthamologist. I am always nervous when people don’t look at me in the eye – what are they hiding? Is he on probation? What the heck?

    I’m glad you’re doing this!

    Thanks PPPJ!
    Mrs M

  4. I’m with pppj, of course, ya gotta be careful not to do it too long or some guy might think you are flirting…tee hee…ok, I will just be nice and look briefly. Not too briefly, just briefly. I live in a very rural area, If you don’t smile and say howdy doo, how are you? They would think we be city folk…lol! City folk just think you is a wild and crazy chick!

    Everthing in moderation, huh?
    Mrs M

  5. Where I grew up, the cars have to slow down and pull half way onto the shoulder of the road in order to make room for each other. Both drivers usually mouth “hey” and take their left hand off the steering wheel to wave. Eye contact is “a given” for me, too. The only time I’ve ever lived in a city was in Japan and I did avoid eye contact then, but now I’m back to my old self. 🙂 I think it’s a great idea. Good luck with the homework, everybody.

    I like the visual on pulling over and sayin “hey…” LOL, I love that.
    Mrs M

  6. I have always looked people in the eye when I talk to them, particularly if I am saying thank you for something. If hate furtive glances and people who do not engage, its almost as if they are afraid of something or nervous. The eyes are the window to the soul and tell a lot about us.

    It’s disconcerting sometimes to speak to someone with eye contact, I think this is why the internet is so inadequate.
    Mrs M

  7. That’s why I’m always wondering if the non-eye contact people are fugitives. Me and my active imagination!

    I love your active imagination…never change!
    Mrs M

  8. ROF PPPJ. I think some people have problems making eye contact because they feel it gives too much of themselves away or they may be painfully shy.

    I totally agree, HH…
    Mrs M

  9. I’m not very good at eye contact, period. In fact I envy people who are able to look into another person’s eyes and actually achieve cogent thought or string coherent sentences together. I can look at people and smile and that usually works and I love that I can look into Mr BC’s eyes without feeling embarrassed or shy but mostly it’s a quick glance and then look away. In fact, it was years before I could do that.

    When I was a kid, if I wanted to concentrate on what someone had to say I turned my head away from them so I could put my ear towards them…

    It’s been a lot better since I started wearing glasses aged about 24. It was liberating, like the panes of glass between others and my eyes protected me. It still is. When I sit down to chat with people I know well, or in meetings when I used to work, I often take my spectacles off to negate this protection and re-create intimacy.

    Eye contact makes me feel incredibly vulnerable, like I’m showing a person my soul and no, it’s not because I’m shifty, it’s a privacy thing. That and because if you look in someone’s eyes there’s too much to see in there, too much to filter out in order to think straight. Prolonged eye contact is tiring!

    It makes no sense but I guess it’s just the way I am, that said, I have a pretty direct way of talking and I smile and laugh a lot and just kind of, look in the general direction of their head. That, on its own usually does the trick.

    Still… keep it up, I lived in London for years and I used to say hello to people…


    It makes perfect sense BC…at least to me. It is an incredibly intimate thing, eye contact.
    Mrs M

  10. Oh dear, will you look at that? I’m a nutter, aren’t I?! 😉


    Well, yes but I wouldn’t have you any other way. It’s a prerequisite to being a friend of mine, you know.
    Mrs M

  11. I am a “look in the eye” type of gal-lol. I apologize to everyone that has to look into my eyes-always red. I believe my dog and I are allergic to dogs-hehe. Speaking of my dog-all animal lovers out there-please pray for him. Last week he has had various health issues arise and isn’t doing too well. He went to the vet twice last week and will be going again on Monday…

    Happy Holidays!

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