iContact: Behind the Thought Process of Keeping Eye Contact with Another Person

Standing up straight. Having a firm handshake.  Maintaining eye contact. And the greatest of these is maintaining eye contact.

Throughout my life those three tips of advice have been constantly bouncing around in my head, though ultimately they end up like the failed attempts of a person who makes the same New Year’s Revolution every year and never keeps it. Maybe I could be a stronger leader, influence more people, and have more friends if I could simply act on these commonly heard instructions on being a successful man. Perhaps then I could be a successful motivational speaker (one that doesn’t live in a van down by the river). Or the next Billy Mays.

Looking another human straight into the eyes is like staring into the person’s soul. If I’m not thinking about it, I can look a person in the eyes for a long time while I am talking to them. But then I tend to think about the fact that I am looking at them in the eyes.

Then it’s all I can do to just look in one of their eyes because it’s too intense to look in both. Then I wonder if they can tell I’m just looking in one eye. Then I think about what I’m thinking about, but start to laugh because I realized I shouldn’t be thinking this much about it. Then I realize I don’t even know what the person is saying at this point, but conveniently they were saying something that was at kinda funny so my smirk has a purpose.

Eye contact is a learned skill. But sometimes I feel like it’s a natural born talent.

Wearing sunglasses is cheating. If I wear sunglasses, the other person tends to assume I am actually looking them in the eyes. It’s also an advantage to me because they don’t know exactly where to look since they can’t see my pupils so they get distracted. That causes them to agree with everything I say, and laugh sometimes, hoping I was telling a funny story. The secret to being a strong leader, having more friends, and influencing people is to wear sunglasses.

And to stand up straight and shake peoples’ hands firmly, like an Alpha Male boyfriend does when he meets a guy friend of his girlfriend who may pose a possible threat because the guy friend is artistic and funny. When the truth is, the boyfriend’s real threat is that the guy friend is a better listener and more sensitive. Seen it happen more than once in college.

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Manspeak, Volume 4: Stance

Man Mode: When men hang out with each other, it tends to involve competitive or action oriented activities like playing sports, hiking, running, watching sports on TV, and playing video games. The men are side by side. The activity itself is the focus; the social element of it is secondary. Eye contact is not important.

Woman Mode: When women hang out with each other, it tends to involve socially orientated activities like shopping, going out for coffee, attending their children’s school activities, and participating in various types of clubs (like book clubs, for example). The women are sitting and/or standing across from each other. The social element itself is the focus, the activity is secondary. Eye contact is important.

Opposites attract. But how do a man and a woman hang out together- in Man Mode or Woman Mode?

The Man Mode Approach: Obviously a man and woman who are constantly competing with each other and never looking at each other, more focused on something else other than each other, will not find any sort of genuine intimacy. But it could be a good way for them to hang out without crossing the line between friendship and romance. [failure]

The Woman Mode Approach: When a man is ready to cross that safe line of “just friends”, he plans a Woman Mode activity with the woman. One that involves an across-from-each-other instead of side-by-side sitting, emphasis on eye contact and conversation. It typically involves dinner. Dinner in a restaurant with low lighting. [success]

Why is it romantic to have to strain to read the menu? It’s not. But a dark environment causes a person’s eyes to dilate. When we look into another person’s eyes and the other person’s eyes are dilated, we tend to be attracted to the other person. The reason- when we are interested in something or someone, our eyes tend to dilate. So if we look into a person’s eyes that are dilated, we assume the other person is mutually attracted to us.
http://www.bodylanguageexpert.co.uk/what-do-dilated-pupils-mean.html

While compromising and meeting in the middle of issues is so important in sustaining a healthy romantic relationship, it does not apply to this specific situation. The answer isn’t to split the time spent 50/50 between Man Mode and Woman Mode. It’s pretty cut and dry: A man must convert to Woman Mode when he’s with a woman, otherwise he is conveying to her that he’s just looking for a buddy. Same thing with sustaining the romance. Otherwise she may end up feeling like he’s just not that into her.

In one of the greatest comedies of all time, Dumb and Dumber, there is a scene where Harry (Jeff Daniels) explains the reason for his recent break-up. Harry tells Lloyd (Jim Carrey) that his ex claimed he never listened to her and as he puts it, “some other stuff too but I wasn’t really paying attention”. There is a reason this example is so relatable and not too much of a stretch. Often when men are spending time with women, they forget to flip the Switch. The Switch from Man Mode to Woman Mode.

A man is focused on something already (anything on TV) and the women speaks. No response. Because the woman said something that didn’t relate to the current activity. Therefore breaking the rules of the Man Code. If she would have commented on the baseball game, she would have received an excited response. But instead, her words vanished into thin air. He is in Man Mode.

This is where it takes a deliberate awareness on the man’s part to keep in mind that he is in the same room with a woman. He has to make a very conscious effort to change over to Woman Mode. When he fails to flip the Switch, he ends up treating his object of affection like one of his buddies. Which causes his sweetheart to feel neglected.

Men are very focused creatures. So focused that it can be a little frustrating to get them to focus on something else. They have to be reminded sometimes they’re in Man Mode and that it’s time to switch to Woman Mode. If a man is interested in a woman, he will communicate and spend time with her in Woman Mode. Sometimes he forgets and temporarily slips back into Man Mode. It happens. He may need a gentle reminder every so often.

The Mode Communication Theory by Dr. Nick Shell:

Woman + Woman = Woman Mode
Man + Man = Man Mode
Man + Woman = Woman Mode

All pictures with the “JHP” logo were taken by Joe Hendricks Photography:

Blog- www.photojoeblog.com

Website- www.joehendricks.com

I love you man stance 2