The eyes have it

“Look me in the eye and tell me you did not hit your brother!” Any parent knows that the eyes are the ultimate lie detector.  They are the mirror to the soul, the barometer of emotion and the great revealer of attention deficit. Likewise, if you want to show someone your passion, confidence or sincerity, you want to do it face to face if possible… because your eyes give you an edge in delivering your message.

Why then do so many of us squander face-to-face opportunities by looking away, watching TV or checking a text message when we’re talking with someone in person? I’m guilty. I have caught myself doing of all of these from time to time. 

The message this behavior sends is “you are not as important as whatever it is I am looking at.” Even if you are completely tuned in with your ears, your eyes show that you don’t care.  Is this the way you want to be perceived by your boss, your spouse or your friends?

I understand that technology has now put our social network at our fingertips 24/7, and there are so many amazing connections, experiences and knowledge this has brought to our lives.  But should we let it interfere with the sacred opportunity of connecting with another human being?

Have you watched teenagers and the way they communicate today?  They can snap instantly from being fully present with your conversation to another world in the palm of their hand.  It’s an instant message that must be answered instantly.  My natural reaction is to stop talking when I lose the eye contact. 

After 5 seconds of awkward silence, I hear the multi-tasking teen say “Go on I’m listening.”

I reply, “No, that’s OK. I’ll wait.”

When the text message is complete, they return to the regularly scheduled program with you.  And the funny thing is… there’s typically no feeling of rudeness on their part.  This is the way they communicate all day long with their friends.  Sadly, this may be an un-reversible trend.

Let’s try a social experiment together.  The next time an iphone or crackberry addict checks out of a conversation with you, just stop talking in mid-sentence and turn and walk away. They will look up after 20 seconds and wonder if you were abducted by aliens.  Of course YOU will probably be perceived as the rude one, but you’ll make a point.

Let’s make a better effort to be fully present with each other.  Unless you’re a doctor being called to emergency surgery, the text can wait.  If the eyes truly are the mirror to the soul, what kind of soul do you want to show to the world?

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16 Comments on “The eyes have it”

  1. David Lynch Says:

    As a parent, I have to admit that I am also responsible for focusing attention on the computer when our 8 year old daughter wants attention. Some times she barges in and interrupts in the middle of what I’m doing, and I get testy.

    We are working to negotiate better ways to make more time to be present with each other, as well as being more considerate at times when interruptions are inappropriate.

    It takes focus and mindfulness not to slip into poor habits!

    • davidgoad Says:

      David, yes that is tough because younger kids don’t understand. I worked in a home office when mine were little and they just assumed that meant playtime for them!

  2. clint Says:

    we might all be ADD. Makes tearing our concentration away from our focus painful.


  3. Technology is both a blessing and a curse. One of the sad things to me is that ever since the invention of the TV dinner and TV dinner tray, families have stopped having the day-to-day in-person conversation around the dinner table.

    I witness almost daily – the constant lack of attention people have to normal life. I see mothers texting while pushing a shopping cart aimlessly through the grocery store… and mind you there is a baby in the cart. They don’t care if they crash the cart into someone else’s cart- as it seems texting is more important.

    I have witnessed families in restaurant – with children ages 7, 10 and 12 – and mom, dad and all three kids have cell phones and they are texting…while dinner is on the table!!!!!!

    The most hilarious site is people on the weekend, doing leisure activities like mowing the lawn, or in bathing suits by the community pool, but that stupid bluetooth is hanging off of their ear…

    What’s sad is that while technology is what is supposed to bring us closer… from community to society to family it’s putting up a wall.

    I remember my brother sharing the reason why he doesn’t have an answering machine on his phone. He said “Well, in mom and dad’s era – if you weren’t home because you were out enjoying time with your family and the phone rang and rang and rang – it just meant you were not home. There was no call screening, no urgency for interrupting life with the people who matter most.’

    In the end – it doesn’t matter how many texts you send, how many emails you answer – or that you become a slave to technology 24/7. What matters is the quality of life you live with the people you love.

    Because let’s face it – when we die, the only people who will come to our funeral, will be the people who are in our lives and who we spend our real time with. Because no one else will know we’re gone… because they didn’t get a text or a voicemail that we’ve checked out.

    • davidgoad Says:

      Well said Stacey. Love your last paragraph.
      When I was growing up, mealtime at the table was a time to talk for us (and fight with my brothers a little bit too 🙂

    • Gus Says:

      do people text at funerals?

  4. Raj Says:

    I think, in house we should have tecnology free time every day during which no machines should be used even no instant message allowed at this time.

    Regards.
    Raj

  5. Chris Anthony -Lansdowne Says:

    Ahhhhhh yes! So well written David, I love the saying that “our eyes are the windows to our souls”…..they really tell people so much about us!

    I once remember driving through a fast food place and never looking up to see the person who was taking my money and giving me my food. It later bothered me that I showed such little respect for the person working hard at his job, I should at least made eye contact with him. It does show a lack of respect and you should make an effort to connect with your eyes…you would be surprised what you’ll see.

    • davidgoad Says:

      Chris, I try to make a conscious effort to say hello to the janitors in our building and the mail delivery lady and the security guards. They seem so happy to have a little conversation… I think most people just walk on by.

  6. Shelley Says:

    My husband just took our daughter’s cell phone away from her and her friend while her friend is over for the day. This keeps them from sitting in a room together texting all their friends who knows what. It drives me more crazy to see them do this texting side by side together when they were desiring each other’s companionship. It is right there and they don’t even get it. We just get the “You just don’t get it look. They don’t know what we know, so I don’t expect their understanding. I just try to make them aware and change. I myself still don’t have texting and enjoy the freedom.

  7. Tom Rosten Says:

    David-

    I consider it to be absolute rudeness when I am conversing with someone, especially if it is about business, and they receive a phone call and start texting a response. I generally ask them if they have a more important item to take care of than the subject tha we are discussing. If that is the case, I ask them to contact me when they find the time to continue the discussion. I also advise that if I am busy, then I will suggest a time in two or three days hence to finish our discussion. I do not hesitate to make decisions without their input.

    I also let it be known that I do not like to have a conversation interrupted by a phone call or a response to a text message.

    Tom

  8. Karen Says:

    Tis the season… tis our culture. I don’t like it… I think we need to add this progressive technology into the book of Ms. Manners. Then again, seems like all sorts of manners have just gone down the drain!

  9. Jan Sysmans Says:

    Guilty as charged. Thanks for reminding ma again. Just try to imaging what the mutitasking world will be like in 10 yrs from now.

    Sent from my iPhone while in a meeting. Really, no kidding. :-(). (can’t decide is this is good or bad)

    • davidgoad Says:

      Refreshing honesty from my friend Jan 🙂
      The old world is gone and we are defining a new one. Will the new world be run those who are best connected online or the best face-to-face communicators?


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