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Lahle Wolfe

How to Make Eye Contact in Different Cultures

By July 24, 2011

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In business and social settings making the right eye contact is important to making a good first impression, in getting a point across, and in many countries, to ensure you do not offend someone else.

Almost universally, looking into someone elses' eyes for more than a few seconds before smiling or otherwise changing your facial expression comes across as staring. Proper eye contact never involves staring at someone or holding a fixed gaze.

To make eye contact, look directly into the other persons' eyes for 4-5 seconds. Be sure to blink normally, and nod or shift your head from time to time during a conversation.

Mimicking the facial expressions of the person talking (i.e., showing concern or smiling) also helps to support appropriate eye contact. A frozen stance and tense face seems more like staring than contact.

Blinking fast and frequently is often associated with feeling nervous or uncomfortable; be sure to gauge your own blink rate and watch how the person you are looking at is responding.

Because social customs and eye contact etiquette vary considerably throughout the world,  be sure to read more tips about making eye contact in specific geographic regions:

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