A major skill we’re attempting to learn in class is “Eye Contact”. In American culture, eye contact is extremely important. This is different from many cultures around the world where Eye Contact is considered “aggressive”, “disrespectful”, or “inappropriate”. But for us Americans looking our audience and our speakers directly in the eye is a really, really important piece of establishing a connection and building trust.
I, personally, have a very hard time making eye contact with people I don’t know. I’ve actually always tried practicing at drive-thru windows because its a brief encounter. I also have sympathy for the poor souls who get treated like garbage all day (I use to work the back window at Wendy’s). Its really easy to tell between the employees who really care about their customers and those who are nervous or just plain don’t. Its amazing how in only a few seconds of locked eye contact you can discover how much a person cares about you (even in the simplest of ways). Getting back to the point, since starting my speech class I’ve been making a conscious effort to make eye contact with strangers. Slowly but surely I’ll master the art. But it is challenging.
The biggest challenge is of course working past my own nervousness of 1-on-1 connections. I’m always anxious of meeting strangers and striking up conversations. Part of this stems from past anxiety issues. However, putting for the effort is slowly making headway. Walking into my classes and even looking around my classes I try to make even a temporary eye contact without looking away immediately. I’m also slowly picking up on those who are nervous about the eye contact and those who are terrified or offended. I make a mental note to skip over them. It may seem like a lot of work for something so silly, but in communication it is VERY important.
On occasion my eyes will meet with someone’s and when they lock I can immediately recognize a spark of energy. Off the top of my head I’d have to say Mr. Pryor (my Comp II teacher has it). By energy I mean anything very positive. Specifically, with Mr. Pryor I get a very cool “buddy”/”student” feeling. He’ll remember me after the class is done. The greatest of all however, is kind of silly.
A month or so ago I went to McDonald’s with my family. I decided to try my charm and eye contact on a girl at the drive-thru window. It was like I could see sparks when my eyes met hers and she smiled. That sounds so corny, but I couldn’t get the feeling out of my head. I dropped everyone off at home and then “forgot” I needed to pick up pop. So I went back through the drive-thru just to see her again. This time her smile grew and the eye lock lingered. I think I knew I had a crush then.
From there my obsession with her electricity took a turn for…obsession? I’ve started to make it a habit to pick up something small there every few days around the time she was suppose to be there. After a few times of missing her I decided to convince myself it was nothing. I stopped making my trip and tried pushing her out of my head. That is until tonight. On my way to class I stopped JUST to get some pop to keep me awake. I had no intentions beyond that (who can’t resist a large coke for a dollar?) As I pulled up to the second window I noticed a girl in the window…my heart skipped a beat as my eyes saw hers. She was putting on her professional smile until she realized it was me. They got bigger and a large genuine smile crossed her face. Her eyes lingered and there was just an electricity about her. Only a few words were exchanged. She was in a hurry (big line) and I was in a hurry (class)…but I walked away absolutely sure I’m going to introduce myself one of these days and ask her for her number… Just a matter of timing.