April 28: Listening? Look ’em in the eye!

By · Monday, April 28th, 2014

For the month of April, our blog will be devoted to polishing
your professional skills.
Everything you need to know about courtesy, manners and common sense.
And we do mean “need” to know.


Eye contact. It seems like a simple thing to do. But, remarkably, few people practice the all-important courtesy of making eye contact in a conversation. Perhaps it’s because conversation can be too narrowly defined in some minds.

A job interview is a conversation, as is an interview between a reporter and a source. So is a class discussion. A business meeting around a table is, too. Two people talking in an elevator is a conversation. That one seems obvious. But watch to see how often people look up, or down or at the elevator buttons instead of at the person speaking.

You can’t have a one-way conversation, really, since a conversation is defined as “a sharing of thoughts and ideas.” In polite society, it is presumed that two people — not just one — would exchange ideas and opinions. So focus on actually engaging in conversations of all kinds. And make eye contact. If you do, then you’ll also be more likely to avoid these common distractions.

  1. Biting your nails.
  2. Playing with your split ends.
  3. Rolling a pencil.
  4. Clicking a pen.
  5. Swiping on your tablet.
  6. Scrolling on your phone.
  7. Putting your hair into a ponytail.
  8. Shaking your hair loose from a ponytail.
  9. Taking off your baseball cap.
  10. Putting on your baseball cap.

It’s not a stretch to imagine these things happening. In fact, all of them have occurred. And in each situation, eye contact would have made all the difference.

Read it. Learn it. Live it.
Be that person.

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