Monday, July 10, 2017


Today’s Tip addresses ways to use your head and eyes when you want to reveal feeling behind your message and create a favorable impression of yourself. This seems obvious, but if your first culture is not American, it definitely is not!

Professionals in America hope to appear relaxed and outgoing, yet self-assured and securely in control. Something as simple as how you tilt your head and use your eyes can determine a successful demeanor.

Tilting the head –relaxing it on a slight angle from straight up—is a welcoming, accommodating gesture, while holding it stiffly erect suggests rigid certainty with little room for compromise.

Women tend to tilt their heads; therefore, they should straighten the head when they want to project seriousness, attentiveness, or challenge. By contrast, men –and all people from hierarchical cultures like East and Southeast Asia—naturally hold their heads more erect, so they will want to relax the head in a slight tilt, to show they are open to what others say and think.

Making proper eye contact is important, too. From early childhood, Americans are taught to “look others in the eye” in order to show respect and attention. Deflecting your gaze –as, for example, Asian culture encourages people to do as a sign of respect and deference—in America indicates a lack of personal engagement.

When you are listening to lengthy remarks, you should make and hold eye contact with the speaker. You may glance away at times, but always come back to connecting with your eyes.

But when you are in conversation with another person, knowing how long you hold your gaze is key. “Too long” makes you seem to be “staring,” which can suggest surprise, confusion, or even outright defiance. “Too short” makes you seem nervous (“eyes darting”) and unsure of yourself. Generally, you should make eye contact, then after about four seconds divert your gaze for about three seconds, then re-connect.

Next time we’ll talk about adding nods, facial expressions and hand gestures for the “right look.”