Eye contact and smiles
Recently, I watched a baby, maybe 6 months old; pat his dad’s arm, in hopes of getting his attention. Dad was paying attention to the person speaking, but he took a moment and looked at his son. Oh my goodness, that little boy’s entire face lit up with a smile!
The look on his face before hand was a little uncertain, perhaps wondering if dad would look at him. His dad was rewarded with a look of pure joy from his son, from the simple act of making eye contact with him.
I believe eye contact is important. In most cases, it shows you value the person enough to look at them. I understand, in some cultures, or situations direct eye contact can be perceived as threatening, so I would suggest you follow the proper behavior for your situation. However, in most cases, looking at someone can make a big difference.
Columbia University even did some research on this. In the article Connecting in Times of Crisis: Eye Contact, Dr. Martha G. Welch states, “Our eyes have oxytocin receptors in them (think “love at first sight”). And oxytocin, the hormone of nurturing and connection, has lifelong health benefits, like lowering levels of stress, pain, and inflammation, and regulating our heartbeats and breathing.”
I try to look at people when they are talking to me. I usually look at total strangers when I walk by them. Many times they are looking away, but when someone looks at me, I smile and say, “How are you,” or “Good morning,” or “Hey,” whatever seems appropriate. Sometimes they ignore me, or grunt a response, but many times, their face lights up like that little boy’s, and they smile back at me. Talk about a win-win, two people smiling. Sweet!
Go ahead, make eye contact with people, you may make their day and be rewarded with a smile!