Career Woman

Why eye contact is important: how to use eye contact in the workplace


This concise guide outlines why eye contact is important, and the ways you can use eye contact effectively to shine in the business environment.

Why eye contact is important

Just like body language, eye contact is a powerful way to communicate with others without saying a word. This non-verbal form of communication has an impact on all the relationships in your life and affects the way people think of you and react to what you’re saying. It isn’t just necessary in a conversation, it’s also a skill that you can develop to create positive and meaningful connections with the people you work with. Our eyes are meant to connect and in doing so can reveal our feelings and thoughts.

Developing strong eye contact can give you a huge advantage in the workplace. When used correctly, it can convey a message of confidence and sincerity to your employer, staff or coworkers. It’s especially important for women to work on developing their eye skills, as we are socially conditioned to make less eye contact than men.

How to use eye contact effectively

Here are some of the best ways to impress with eye contact in the workplace:

  1. Establish eye contact before speaking

When engaging in conversation with someone, look them in the eye to make contact before you start speaking. This way eye contact is initiated and it’s easier to continue this as you speak.

  1. Hold contact for 5 seconds

To keep your listener at ease and comfortable, maintain contact for about 5 seconds before glancing away. Slowly look to the side for a few seconds before establishing contact once again. Holding constant contact can make it seem as though you’re staring and can be intimidating.

  1. Maintain a 50/70 rule

To avoid staring, keep contact 50% of the time that you’re speaking and 70% of the time when you’re the one listening. You’ll show both confidence and interest in the conversation.

  1. Focus on one eye at a time

During a conversation with someone, switch your focus and gaze from eye to eye rather than trying to look into both eyes at the same time. Your contact will be natural and indicate your concentration and attention to the discussion.

  1. Include everyone in the conversation

If you’re talking to more than one person, you’ll want to connect with as many of them as you can. Maintain eye contact with each person for 5 seconds before moving onto the next. Keep moving randomly from face to face, engaging as much as you can.

  1. Show self-confidence

Want to send off vibes of confidence at work? Do this by avoiding breaking your gaze downward. When you look down you instantly show signs of insecurity. Or worse, boredom. Instead look up slightly or to the side. Looking up for a few seconds indicates your curiosity and interest in the conversation. Looking to the side also shows that you’re engaged in what you’re hearing and that you’re invested in the discussion.

  1. Be more memorable

When it comes to being noticed and remembered, you’ll want to combine eye contact with hand movements. Every 45 to 60 seconds, use gentle and natural hand gestures as you’re speaking. Using subtle body language sends a signal to your colleagues that you’re strong and logical and they should be paying attention to what you’re saying.

  1. Communicate sincerity and trust

During any business exchange, maintaining eye contact sends the message that you’re being upfront and sincere, which encourages people to be more receptive to what you’re saying. This sincerity also builds trust and lets the listener know that they have your full attention. Let your eyes wander around the room during the conversation and you quickly show that your mind is elsewhere.

  1. Stay focused and tuned in

It can be difficult to maintain eye contact when sitting in a meeting. But this isn’t the time to let your attention drift away and let your eyes drop to the table. Staying tuned in and maintaining eye contact with others in the meeting keeps you focused and alert…and on point when it comes to your turn to contribute. Let your eyes land on someone for a few seconds, letting your gaze linger just long enough to show that you’re participating in the conversation without staring. Look at others around the table, engaging with a nod and eye contact whenever you can.

  1. Connecting with a larger audience

What about those times you’re speaking to a larger audience? You can still maintain eye contact to inspire confidence, although it won’t be as intimate as talking to one or two of your colleagues or sitting in a small meeting. Look around the room, randomly stopping on faces to make that quick connection with your eyes. You’ll leave people feeling important and noticed even with just that light interaction.


Improving your skills with eye contact may take a bit of time. Practice on your friends and family – when you’re feeling confident, move on to using it more effectively in the workplace. As you focus on using better eye skills you may find that people are more open to what you have to say. The way you look at others can inspire and encourage them and leave a lasting impression that earns you respect and success.

About Rachel Blank

Rachel Blank is the cofounder of Rory, the digital clinic for women’s health from healthcare technology company, Ro. Rory handles everything from online treatment to the delivery of medication and follow-up care for stigmatized women’s health conditions. Rory also provides a content platform to give women the tools and education they need to advocate for their own bodies. Prior to founding Rory, Blank was an investor at General Catalyst. She received her MBA from Harvard Business School. You can find Blank on Twitter, @RachelHBlank.

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