“Eye Talk” by Diane Marie Pinkard

Posted by Diane on Jan 24, 2010

I have written a wonderful book about relationship selling and I have quoted three paragraphs from my book for this article.  Since writing my book I have, now, added three more.  Let’s see if you can tell which are the three original paragraphs and then, the added three?  I bet you will find it to be very easy to do!    

Eye contact is a very important tool for achieving a good connection with your customer.  The value of good eye contact is twofold: First, it’s a very powerful silent communication message about you and your relationship with you.  It reflects your level of self-esteem and your comfort level with yourself. Maybe you are familiar with the expression, “The eyes are the mirror of the soul.”  Through the window of your eyes, people are able to read you like a book!

Second, our quality eye contact validates the person to whom we are speaking. When we look them in the eye and give them our undivided attention, we are telling them that they matter.  We are honoring and valuing their self-worth.  I have often had clients tell me that they like themselves much more when they are in my company.  That’s simply because, they feel valued and important.

If looking people in the eye is an issue for you, practice with a good friend or in front of a mirror.  Set up a video camera and play back the results.  Practice until you become comfortable with you. Watching your own videotape can be scary.  It can be tough to make eye contact with your own eyes and meet up with your own soul.  But your efforts can richly reward you.  The more comfortable you are with yourself, the more comfortable your clients will be with you! 

However, if you have grown very comfortable in your own skin, and you recognize that eye contact seems unpleasant for your guest, respect him in his space, and do not judge him for his behavior.  He may not be deceitful or contrary in any way.  And, where I had to learn this lesson is from two of my five dogs.  Two of my dear pets, sadly, had been abused as puppies.  My vet informed me that if animals are mistreated in the first 3 months of their life they usually never totally recover or forget their traumatic experiences.  One of my two precious dogs’ saddest behaviors is, they cannot meet my eye.   Their self-esteem is just too poor.

I work very hard to build trust and communicate with these two kind souls in others ways that keep them feeling safe and comfortable so we can feel connected and healthy together.  I have not “walked in their moccasins,” so I honor them for who they are and where they come from.  I am very sensitive to who they are.  So I soften my step when I walk,  I watch how I move, especially how I move my arms and what I carry in my hands.  I soften my voice and I touch them with total respect and dignity.  I never, ever, force eye contact!  I work to recover their self-esteem by looking at them kindly when I interact with them, but I expect nothing in return.  Yes, these two beautiful blond labs have taught me a lot about imperfections and about honoring and accepting that, not everyone has to do it the way I believe it should be done.

Society is also rapidly changing.  Our society is fast becoming a “mixing bowl” with many cultures joining together.   Our world is growing smaller by the day.  Consequently, we must broaden our horizons and be aware that the good eye contact we have been taught in our American tradition may not be the practice of another culture.  Or, maybe, our guest may not be as comfortable with himself for his own personal reasons.  Humanity is struggling in many ways today and that is making life hard, and it is definitely tugging on people’s heartstrings and self-esteem.  So if you sense that eye contact may not be the practice of your business prospect at hand don’t avoid eye contact.  Because part of you gaining the genuine confidence of your visitor is that you be true to yourself.  Just soften your practiced disciplines to keep you true to whom you are and, also, keeping your client comfortable with himself and you! 

In closing, my final message here is, not just about eye contact, but about the fact that no matter how much we think we know, personal circumstances and life’s unfolding can always teach us more.  And I think some of our best learning doesn’t just stem from working with one another as human beings.  I sincerely believe it comes from listening and observing nature, children, and animals.   In fact, it is the continuous personal struggle I see my two dear dogs to have that prompted me to select this topic to share with you!

Thank you for your time and I would love to hear about your experiences and learn more from you.

 Author of Just Treat Me Like I Matter:  The Heart of Sales

Website:  http://www.dianepinkard.com

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