Eye contact is a powerful method of communication we use every day. It has the potential to impact our careers, relationships and opportunities in both positive and negative ways. Even so, many of us are unsure how to employ eye contact strategically, to our own advantage.

So what’s the secret? Is it possible to use eye contact to close a big deal or get a girl’s number? To answer these questions, we need to take a closer look at the science of eye contact and how it affects our interactions.

Eye Contact Can Make You Appear More — or Less — Honest

Think about the last time you spoke with someone who refused to meet your eyes. How did their behavior make you feel? You probably thought they had something to hide — you may have even suspected them of being dishonest.  

Research indicates that most people prefer eye contact to last just over three seconds, at least when it comes to acquaintances they don’t know well. You can tell how close a couple is, for example, by the amount of eye contact they make.

People also tend to maintain eye contact longer when speaking with a supervisor or other authority figure. Children tend to hold eye contact for longer as well, though that habit usually changes as we enter adulthood.

Three seconds of eye contact is often considered appropriate. If you’re trying to close a deal with a client, aim for the three-second mark. Staring for a long time may make them distrust you, as sociopaths often maintain heavy-duty eye contact in an attempt to convince a victim of their veracity.

Eye Contact Helps People Remember You

Research indicates that people perceive those who make high levels of eye contact more dominant and powerful, but also warmer and more approachable. Doing so helps others remember you because you create a sense of connection with them. This can help you do anything from winning a promotion to attracting a partner.  

Eye Contact Builds Self-Awareness Naturally

Eye contact lets other people know you’re paying attention to them. This was the primary reason why everyone from teachers to your parents demanded you look at them when they disciplined you.

Don’t underestimate the power of eye contact in your interactions. Making eye contact with your colleagues when they’re speaking during an important meeting fosters feelings of goodwill. Of course, paying attention when the boss speaks matters just as much.  

When you make eye contact, you reveal more of your innermost thoughts and feelings. It’s difficult to lie when you hold someone’s gaze. This creates a higher level of intimacy and trust between you and your listener.

Too Much or Unnatural Eye Contact Creates Discomfort

Have you ever sat on an airplane with a book open while your seatmate chatters away in the seat next to you? Chances are, you did your best to avoid glancing in their direction, right? Unwanted eye contact makes us feel uncomfortable.

The human brain specially evolved to attune us to the gazes of others. If you’ve ever felt someone was staring at you even though you barely looked their way, chances are, you’re not psychic. Your mind recognized, even subconsciously, the fact that someone had you in their sights. In primitive days, this helped you avoid danger. It still can today, if you pick up on a suspicious-looking individual ogling you on the bus and exiting at the same stop.

Eye Contact, Sexual Attraction and Romantic Love

Maintaining eye contact can help you find romantic love. Your gaze can also indicate sexual attraction.

When you find someone attractive, your eyes tend to gravitate down their bodies. When you feel a romantic attraction, however, your eyes remain fixated on their facial area. In short, you should learn where the ladies’ eyes are, fellas. Hint: they’re not below the neck.

The Eyes are Truly the Windows of the Soul

The way you make eye contact says a lot about you. You want to project an image of confidence and trustworthiness, so take a few of the insights from this article and apply them to your everyday life.