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Understanding Body Language

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The Eyes
Eyes

The eyes are sometimes called the "windows to the soul" because they can reveal so much about what a person is thinking or feeling.

Photo by Helmut Gevert

The eyes are frequently referred to as the "windows to the soul" since they are capable of revealing a great deal about what a person if feeling or thinking. As you engage in conversation with another person, taking note of eye movements is a natural and important part of the communication process. Some common things you may note is whether people are making direct eye contact or averting their gaze, how much they are blinking, or if their pupils are dilated.

When evaluating body language, pay attention to the follow eye signals:

  • Eye gaze
    When a person looks directly into your eyes when having a conversion, it indicates that they are interested and paying attention. However, prolonged eye contact can feel threatening. On the other hand, breaking eye contact and frequently looking away may indicate that the person is distracted, uncomfortable, or trying to conceal his or her real feelings.

  • Blinking
    Blinking is natural, but you should also pay attention to whether a person is blinking too much or too little. People often blink more rapidly when they are feeling distressed or uncomfortable. Infrequent blinking may indicate that a person is intentionally trying to control his or her eye movements. For example, a poker player might blink less frequently because he is purposely trying to appear unexcited about the hand he was dealt.

  • Pupil size
    One of the most subtle cues that eyes provide is through the size of the pupils. While light levels in the environment control pupil dilation, sometimes emotions can also cause small changes in pupil size. For example, you may have heard the phase "bedroom eyes" used to describe the look someone gives when they are attracted to another person.

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