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The Men of Iron Minute

by Chad Zueck | Director of Content Creation

Eye to Eye

The room is over full. The volume is increasing as people conversate about weather and weekly news: the crowd bustles and moves in and out like the current lapping up on the beach. One group moves in, and another moves out rhythmically in a never-ending flood of humanity. I am fighting to be attentive and listen to someone who desires time-sensitive advice. I am wrung out. I just stepped off the stage after giving a 45-minute talk that required a lot of manufactured energy. The conversation is worth listening to, but the internal and external distractions are mounting. My eyes dart back and forth with the surge of the crowd. I hear about every other word, and the person speaking is agitated. I recognize her body language, saying, “You don’t care enough to listen.” But I did care! I noticed the tension early and asked her to repeat herself. I knew that she deserved dignity and respect, and if I was going to be able to serve well, I had to do something.

With elevated crowd noise, I asked her to repeat that all as I mentioned the distractions and the disturbance in the room. She kindly repeated herself, and I maintained eye contact throughout the conversation. I felt the tension within my chest; the tell shows that my body is saying flea, avoid, or at most, passively listen. I fought through and gave steady eye contact to ensure I heard and that she felt heard and understood. Her posture relaxed, and I offered words of advice and encouragement. Eye-to-eye contact exudes confidence and, therefore, being comfortable in your own skin. According to studies, eye contact also helps others believe what you are saying and are more likely to take your advice.[1] Generally, we should maintain eye contact 50% of the time when talking and 70% when listening. Eye contact forms a bridge of trust and connection. This soft skill can be developed in the home, boardroom, or ballgame.

 

When words are few, the eyes speak a great deal.

 

I will end with this. There are two ways you can show someone you care. Give them eye-to-eye contact or bring them tacos. That’s good advice.

 

Be a mentor.

Find a mentor.

Be a better man.

 

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[1] https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0162291