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Using Your Eyes too Much (or Too Little)

Striking a balance between aggressive eye contact and not enough of it is critical for successful social interactions, say Florin Dolcos, PhD, and Sanda Dolcos, PhD, director and co-director of SCOPE Neuroscience Lab at the University of Illinois. If you avoid looking at someone's eyes while talking with them, you could send signals of avoidance, or lack of sincerity or interest. But if you're obsessively locking eyes with them, you may create the impression of rudeness or intimidation. The Dolcoses say there isn't a rule of thumb for this; some experts recommend eye contact for 30 percent to 60 percent of the time during a social interaction; others recommend engaging in eye contact 50 percent of the time while speaking and 70 percent of time while listening; and maintaining the eye contact for 4 to 5 seconds. Stay somewhere in the middle, and you should be fine.