Some sales men are hilarious. Yesterday, this dude was trying to sell me a 40″ LCD television, even though I showed no interest what-so-ever. He had obviously just read some “how to” pop-psychology book on sales techniques, and was practicing his new found knowledge. His first “great idea” was to maintain eye contact, but in reality he just freaked the sh*t out me, because he was staring so much. At one stage I actually thought he was going to morph into Buffalo Bill from Silence of the Lambs and slaughter me. Much to my pleasure…he didn’t. Anyway, this whole idea of eye contact is the basis of this article. Here is what I could find:
Fixed Eye Contact:
This is the gaze our nutty salesman adopted. The problem with this gaze is that a lot of the time it can make the other person feel very uncomfortable. It is almost as if they are literally looking into your brain. This type of eye contact can often be seen in people in a position of power (or those who wish to be), and can be used to easily intimidate. It also gives the impression that the person is very confident, when in reality they may not be.
People who use this type of gaze will constantly look at different parts of your face; behind you, below you, above you. They will look you in the eye intermittently. The problem is that they may come across as being nervous and low on self confidence, and may even appear untrustworthy. These non-verbal cues may cause negative consequences in the workplace, especially in situations like interviews and negotiations.
The person who uses this style hardly ever meets your gaze. Many people from rural areas tend to use this gaze, and instead of looking at you directly, they will use their peripheral vision to keep an eye on you. Like darting eyes, they can also appear untrustworthy and nervous, when in actuality it is simply a learned behavior, which occurs due to their surroundings and a reduced amount of human interaction.
This is probably the safest gaze to adopt, and it is the one used by most people. If a person is speaking to us, we usually look them steadily in the eye whilst they are speaking, but if it becomes an uncomfortable stare we glance away quickly to avoid tension, and then resume the contact. The next time you are speaking with a colleague, you will probably see them doing this, unless of course it’s a high-ranking executive, in which case he/she will ask you how you are doing, and then stare into YOUR SOUL.
This is a guest post by Chris O’ Hara.