The Eyes of Ellsberg
Michael Ellsberg’s “eye contact revolution” is aimed not only at careerists, but at the social and spiritual heart of our glowing screen-obsessed world.
Jason Gots is a New York-based writer, editor, and podcast producer. For Big Think, he writes (and sometimes illustrates) the blog "Overthinking Everything with Jason Gots" and is the creator and host of the "Think Again" podcast. In previous lives, Jason worked at Random House Children's Books, taught reading and writing to middle schoolers and community college students, co-founded a theatre company (Rorschach, in Washington, D.C.), and wrote roughly two dozen picture books for kids learning English in Seoul, South Korea. He is also the proud father of an incredibly talkative and crafty little kid.
What’s the Big Idea?
There’s an eye contact spectrum. We’re all familiar with its extremes: at one end, you’ve got the lunatic whose blazing eyes bore into you from the moment you meet until (at last!) you are free of him. On the other, the almost clinically shy folks who stare at the rug the whole time they’re talking to you.
Michael Ellsberg, author of The Power of Eye Contact: Your Secret For Success in Business, Love and Life, and The Education of Millionaires: It’s Not What You Think, and It’s Not Too Late thinks most of us are getting it wrong, eye-contact wise. Good eye contact, he argues, is as important to connecting meaningfully with others (at play or at work) as is, say, bathing. What’s needed, says Ellsberg, is a soft, open gaze – one that neither intimidates nor communicates anxiety on the part of the gazer.
What’s the Significance?
Ellsberg’s “eye contact revolution” is aimed not only at careerists, but at the social and spiritual heart of our glowing screen-obsessed world. Looking up from our smartphones and into each other’s eyes, he believes, will increase the quality of every aspect of our lives.
So What do I do With This?
Perhaps you have no idea what kind of eye-contact you’re making (or not making) with people, and are loathe to test out new techniques on your boss or colleagues. Ellsberg suggests practicing eye-contact mindfulness and quality with service professionals. Ordering at a restaurant, for example, is a low-stakes interaction, and the server has a built-in incentive to connect with you, the customer. So the next time you’re asking for a double caramel macchiato, why not give it a shot? If the barista recoils in horror, you’re probably not doing it right.
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