The Importance Of working With Clients On Eye Level
The eyes are the windows to the soul. Perhaps that is the reason why we have so many phrases related to the eye. They say you turn a “blind eye to someone” when you fail to help another person, despite understanding their difficulty. Or someone will advice you not to let anyone “pull wool over your eyes”, meaning don’t let anyone deceive you. Other sayings like “apple of the eye”, “a sight for sore eyes”, see “eye to eye” are all expressions we use when we communicate. This is why eye contact is very important in client communication. You would be uncomfortable doing dealings with a person who wears sunglasses all the time, don’t you? Since you cannot see the eyes of the other person, you don’t know whether he or she is trustworthy.
Importance of eye contact as a skill
Eye contact is tied to honesty and trustworthiness. Children can do it easily, but as you grow older, maintaining eye contact is not very easy as it evolves to become a skill. Maintaining eye contact in communication is a skill that you have to practice and master. Eye contact shows that you are listening attentively to the other person and that you are really interested in striking up conversation with the other person. Investigative officers are trained to spot furtive eyes. The moment the suspect breaks eye contact, he is in trouble. Despite other evidences that may seem to prove otherwise, they can easily pin him down with the crime with this “breaking of eye-contact” thing.
While maintaining eye contact is necessary when you are striking conversation with a client, remember not to stare, because that would intimidate or antagonize the other person. Staring can cause uneasiness among both parties – while one person feels uncomfortable, the other person feels artificial. It is hard to find a balance between eye contact and “not to stare”, but with practice, you can do it right. Here are a few points to remember when you maintain contact with clients
- Maintaining maximum eye contact is evidence of credibility and dominance
- Lack of proper contact and blinking can be termed as submissive
- Staring can be mistaken as hostility
- Eye contact can open and close communication
If you observe street vendors, you can see how they maintain eye contact when they are trying to sell something. They can really make out when someone is interested in a product – by their dilated pupils. They always maintain eye-contact so they immediately get the clue when somebody wants to buy their product. This is how they start their selling tactics.
Here are some ways to improve your eye contact skills when you are talking with your clients
- While addressing a group
The biggest challenge would be when you are talking to a group of people who has come in to see your presentation on your new and yet-to-release Android app. You have to convince each member on the benefits of your app. But first, you have to make them all feel at home. If you keep looking at just one person in the group, the others would feel ignored and they would stop listening to you. This is why they say it is imperative to maintain eye-contact with each member of the group. The idea is to keep them all interested in your presentation.
- While talking to an individual
When there is only person to make that presentation, you are in luck, because you need to keep eye-contact with only one person. But since maintaining eye-contact all the time is difficult, you can break eye contact after every 5 seconds. You can look in one eye for 5 seconds and then in the other eye for another 5 seconds and then look at the mouth for another 5 seconds. This will create a triangle, and the listener till no longer feel that you staring too hard at them. If you break away from this triangle and look somewhere else, then the person will lose concentration. Some people say you need to look at the mouth only when the other person is talking. If you are not comfortable with looking at the mouth, then you can look at both eyes and then somewhere else, before resuming eye contact. When you are looking somewhere else, remember not to look down because that creates the impression you are concluding the conversation. Instead, you can move your eyes to the side to give the impression that you are remembering something. You can however, use the triangle technique when the client speaks with you.
- Different people feel different levels of comfort with eye contact
There is no such thing as perfect eye-contact. So you have to know the other person and what he is comfortable with when you play the eye contact game. When somebody is maintaining eye contact with you, do the same. However, remember, some people may not like it when your act as their mirror image.
The more we maintain eye contact with clients, the more your chances of winning a deal. So the next time you schedule a meeting with a client, remember – eye contact with a firm handshake and a steady, friendly smile would land you with a project, of course, provided you have other aspects of the project ready. Because, you have a little under one minute, or rather around 15-20 seconds to make an impression on a new client. So keep the focus on the client and maintain eye contact.
The author: Reema Oamkumar is engaged as a thought leader at www.Software-Developer-India.com, which is a part of the YUHIRO Group. YUHIRO is a German-Indian enterprise which provides programmers to IT companies, agencies and IT departments.