close-eye-contactI was recently reading in one of my favorite magazines (American Scientific Mind) an interesting little article on why people are so much more apt to be mean to each other online. For a long time they thought it was the anonymity, but turns out it’s directly linked to a lack of eye contact with the recipient.

They conducted a study where people communicated with each other online in multiple contexts. Sometimes they were able to see a side view of each other through cameras, sometimes they were instructed to share intimate personal details, and other times they looked directly in each other’s eyes through webcams.

Those in the first two categories were 50% more likely to be antagonistic and ‘mean’ than those in the third category. That is, regardless of whether or not people could see a side view or know the other person’s name, age, occupation, etc… they were STILL more likely to be mean than if they were looking directly in the other person’s eyes. The conclusion? We’re more gentle with other people when we get immediate feedback on the effect we’re having on them, and eyes give away our emotional state.

How often are you looking into the eyes of other people as you talk to them or even pass them on the street? The most effective way of developing compassion is to truly understand another human being. We often say this is the most powerful aspect of personality psychology. However, if you want to get started in a simple actionable way, start being aware and focusing on other people’s eyes. Make eye contact even if it’s uncomfortable. Eyes are gateways to the soul, and watching the responses people have to every day events and encounters will tell you novels about them. Information easily becomes understanding, and understanding leads to compassion.

For more information, I recommend reading “The Power of Eye Contact” by Michael Ellsberg. Good stuff.



  • Rii
    • Rii
    • December 6, 2019 at 6:56 pm

    Don’t intuitives have more eye contact issues ? funny thing is that I’ve been attracted to ppl that do that eye roll thing when I ask a question I felt like their really thinking into what I say .

  • Mona C.
    • Mona C.
    • November 24, 2012 at 8:37 pm

    I have notice the rude behaviors on-line through blogs, but its very important to make eye-contact when communicating, I think it is the only way to receive everything from the other being you are in cummune with. We connect,we cummune, we give & we receive. This is sharing. This is unity, Unity is the Only reason we cummune, to give ,show/express, sharing that part of oneself. to notice anything we must look at it to see it. Focus on it, position oneself in alignment with that which is becoming 1 thru unity by connecting in cummuniation through the eyes for truth and propose in the moment. The eyes are the gate to the soul, the truth ,the root, the dark & the light,the whole and that is why u should make eye-contact to receive ALL you came to get & to give back graceful

  • janet
    • janet
    • November 24, 2012 at 3:05 pm

    When I came down to the USA from BC in 1964, I came from a small place where eye contact was a way of life, of communication, of comfort. I came from a mountain home to Portland OR to attend Lewis and Clark College, I learned much more than academics. I studied people, for to them, I was an anomaly. Did I want to fit into this strange culture? So much was side stepped or avoided.
    I found that people were sometimes actually repulsed by a person with direct eye contact. My little feminine 5’1 frame was frightening them just through my direct eye contact!
    I had to learn to look away from people as I walked down the St. I had to learn to use “soft eyes,” so I wouldn’t frighten people! I learned to glance and look deep, so that I could keep in touch with the person I was talking to.
    I learned many social games, only a few was I willing to play…

    The studies on connecting eyes at birth are so true!

  • janet
    • janet
    • November 24, 2012 at 2:50 pm

    Hi Jerry,
    When working with any person who has trouble with eye contact, it is often because they cannot filter emotion… it all seems to come on too strong, too fast, and the protecting perspective of the spectrum of gentle to extreme seems missing. Therefore sometimes eye contact can be down right painful.
    One helpful hint here is to make “soft eyes,” when you are out in the wild and watching wild animals, if you look with intense focus (hard eyes) they move away. If you look with soft eyes, coming from only a loving heart, they are more comfortable. Glancing, looking around an animal is the same as a person with a non-working filter.
    I thought this might give you some ideas….
    it is often these people who are our greatest teachers….

  • Pat Anderson
    • Pat Anderson
    • November 22, 2012 at 1:39 pm

    Hi Antonia,

    Interesting article, thanks. I am a Public Speaking coach, and I always emphasize to my students the absolute importance of eye contact…………………..So very very powerful!

    Looking forward to reading more of your stuff!


    Pat Anderson

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