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Subtle Eye Gestures That Can Help You Earn the Trust of Others

Subtle Eye Gestures That Can Help You Earn the Trust of Others

Human beings are the only primates that show the whites of their eyes. This gives us a unique range of possible signals that we can communicate with just our eyes. By knowing what different eye signals mean, and how to make those signals, we can more effectively get others to trust us and like us instantaneously.

Contracted Pupils versus Dilated Pupils

    You may have noticed that your pupils contract (get smaller) or dilate (get larger) when your mood changes. When you get excited about something, your pupils can actually dilate up to four times their original size – that’s pretty drastic!

    Conversely, an angry or negative mood can cause your pupils to contract a lot. You probably have angry coworkers or friends who complain to you: next time they do, notice how their pupils become “beady” or like “snake eyes.”

    Say you want to dilate your pupils on purpose to convey your interest or excitement in what someone else is talking about. How can you do this intentionally? Thankfully there’s an easy trick: Un-focus your eyes, blurring your vision as much as you can. You’ll know you’re doing this correctly if your eyes feel very relaxed.

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    Make the “eyebrow flash”

      The “eyebrow flash” is an unconscious eyebrow raise that lasts about 1/5 of a second: it’s a subtle but effective gesture that signals a long-distance “hello!” Normally, you don’t raise your eyebrows to greet a random stranger you pass on the street. But if you do want to get to know a stranger, try this friendly and simple gesture! You’ll likely find that they’ll return the eyebrow flash and smile; some will even come over to strike up a conversation.

      Keep your eyes open and avoid frowning

      It’s easy to allow our resting eyes to half-close and our faces to droop into a frown, especially when we’re preoccupied with something. But recent studies have found [1] that these habits make us appear as though we’re tired and in a bad mood. People associate exhaustion with poor cognitive performance. So it probably shouldn’t come as a surprise that if you don’t look alert, people will unconsciously assume that you’re less intelligent.

      Long story short: Keep your eyes looking bright and that face smiling!

      Use low OR high eyebrows to signal authority or submission

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        Low-set eyebrows signal authority. John F. Kennedy had what are known as “medially down-turned” eyebrows, which gave his face a permanently authoritative (and concerned) look that appealed to voters.

          If you don’t already have low-set eyebrows, but you want to project authority, you can make your eyebrows thicker. This will shorten the distance between your eyes and the eyebrows and thereby create the illusion you have low set eyebrows.

          By contrast, you can take advantage of high or arched eyebrows to signal submission or sexiness. Scarlett Johansson’s eyebrows, while thick, are high and arched. If you don’t already have high eyebrows and want to signal sexiness, consider getting them sculpted or shaped to achieve this look.

          Narrow your eyelids and focus your gaze to establish authority

          Many of us need to project our authority from time to time, whether it’s as a manager speaking to employees or a teacher speaking to a large class. If you have naturally soft eyes, but want to project authority, practice the “Power Stare.”

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          Try not to blink excessively while you maintain eye contact. Narrow your eyelids and focus closely on the other person. By doing this, you are demonstrating that you are utterly unintimidated, and that you are establishing your dominance.

          In fact, this is exactly what predatory animals do just before they strike their prey. While you probably plan to use this gaze in the workplace or in much calmer social scenarios, the effect can be useful from time to time.

          To signal submissiveness, lower the head and look up

            Just as it can be useful to establish power and dominance, it’s equally important to know how to signal submission. Animals do this too in different ways: dogs sometimes expose their bellies to show that they are not trying to pose a threat to other, larger dogs. Projecting submissiveness is a method of gaining another person’s trust.

            If you want to try it out, lower your head just slightly and look up. This makes your eyes appear larger and more “innocent” or “childlike.” It’s easier to do this if you’re shorter than the other person, but if you’re the taller one, you can also try it out while you’re seated. Just make sure not to overdo this one – it can look less than subtle!

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            Don’t blink too frequently or too slowly

            Both over-blinking and under-blinking can be warning signs to others. People under pressure will often dramatically increase their blinking rate, while people who blink very slowly are unconsciously signaling that they are bored or feel superior to you. Strangers and friends alike will pick up on these signals. If you want to gain someone’s trust and respect, blink at a regular rate to show that you trust and respect them too.

            To establish strong, peer-to-peer rapport, hold eye contact about 60-70% of the time

            More than this can be unsettling, while less than appear overly meek. 60-70% is the sweet spot for an extended gaze that creates intimate feelings. This will encourage people to like and trust you.

            This is why you might find it hard to trust a nervous person who meets your gaze less than a third of the time. Think about this for yourself: you might be the kind of person who avoid eye contact, but make the attempt to hold enough to gain another person’s trust.

            Consider avoiding dark-tinted glasses as well, especially when you’re trying to establish a strong relationship with another person – either business or personal. The sunglasses will make others feel you are either staring at them or trying to avoid them.

            Reference

            More by this author

            Brian Lee

            Chief of Product Management at Lifehack

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            Last Updated on October 30, 2019

            How the Stages of Change Model Helps You Change Your Habits

            How the Stages of Change Model Helps You Change Your Habits

            Change is tough, there’s no doubt about it. Old habits are hard to shift, and adopting a new lifestyle can feel like an uphill battle!

            In this article, you will learn about a simple yet powerful model:

            Stages of change model, that explains the science behind personal transformation.

            You’ll discover how and why some changes stick whereas others don’t last, and how long it takes to build new habits.

            What is the Stages of Change Model?

            Developed by researchers J.O. Prochaska and Carlo C. DiClemente over 30 years ago[1] and outlined in their book Changing For Good, the Stages of Change Model, also known as the Transtheoretical Model, was formed as a result of the authors’ research with smokers.

            Prochaska and DiClemente were originally interested in the question of why some smokers were able to quit on their own, whereas others required professional help. Their key conclusion was that smokers (or anyone else with a bad habit) quits only when they are ready to do so.

            Here’s an illustration done by cartoonist and illustrator Simon Kneebone about the different stages a smoker experiences when they try to quit smoking:

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              The Stages of Change Model looks at how these conscious decisions are made. It emphasizes that change isn’t easy. People can spend a long time stuck in a stage, and some may never reach their goals.[2]

              The model has been applied in the treatment of smoking, alcoholism, and drugs. It is also a useful way of thinking about any bad habit. Social workers, therapists, and psychologists draw on the model to understand their patients’ behaviors, and to explain the change process to the patients themselves.

              The key advantages to the model is that it is simple to understand, is backed by extensive research, and can be applied in many situations.

              The Stages of Change Model is a well-established psychological model that outlines six stages of personal change:

              1. Precontemplation
              2. Contemplation
              3. Determination
              4. Action
              5. Maintenance
              6. Termination

              How are these stages relevant to changing habits?

              To help you visualize the stages of change and how each progresses to the next one, please take a look at this wheel:[3]

                Let’s look at the six stages of change,[4] together with an example that will show you how the model works in practice:

                Stage 1: Precontemplation

                At this stage, an individual does not plan to make any positive changes in the next six months. This may because they are in denial about their problem, feel too overwhelmed to deal with it, or are too discouraged after multiple failed attempts to change.

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                For example, someone may be aware that they need to start exercising, but cannot find the motivation to do so. They might keep thinking about the last time they tried (and failed) to work out regularly. Only when they start to realize the advantages of making a change will they progress to the next stage.

                Stage 2: Contemplation

                At this stage, the individual starts to consider the advantages of changing. They start to acknowledge that altering their habits would probably benefit them, but they spend a lot of time thinking about the downside of doing so. This stage can last for a long time – possibly a year or more.

                You can think of this as the procrastinating stage. For example, an individual begins to seriously consider the benefits of regular exercise, but feels resistant when they think about the time and effort involved. When the person starts putting together a concrete plan for change, they move to the next stage.

                The key to moving from this stage to the next is the transformation of an abstract idea to a belief (e.g. from “Exercise is a good, sensible thing to do” to “I personally value exercise and need to do it.)[5]

                Stage 3: Preparation

                At this point, the person starts to put a plan in place. This stage is brief, lasting a few weeks. For example, they may book a session with a personal trainer and enrol on a nutrition course.

                Someone who drinks to excess may make an appointment with a drug and alcohol counsellor; someone with a tendency to overwork themselves might start planning ways to devise a more realistic schedule.

                Stage 4: Action

                When they have decided on a plan, the individual must then put it into action. This stage typically lasts for several months. In our example, the person would begin attending the gym regularly and overhauling their diet.

                Stage 4 is the stage at which the person’s desire for change becomes noticeable to family and friends. However, in truth, the change process began a long time ago. If someone you know seems to have suddenly changed their habits, it’s probably not so sudden after all! They will have progressed through Stages 1-3 first – you probably just didn’t know about it.

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                Stage 5: Maintenance

                After a few months in the Action stage, the individual will start to think about how they can maintain their changes, and make lifestyle adjustments accordingly. For instance, someone who has adopted the habit of regular workouts and a better diet will be vigilant against old triggers (such as eating junk food during a stressful time at work) and make a conscious decision to protect their new habits.

                Unless someone actively engages with Stage 5, their new habits are liable to come unstuck. Someone who has stuck to their new habits for many months – perhaps a year or longer – may enter Stage 6.

                Maintenance can be challenging because it entails coming up with a new set of habits to lock change in place. For instance, someone who is maintaining their new gym-going habit may have to start improving their budgeting skills in order to continue to afford their gym membership.

                Stage 6: Termination

                Not many people reach this stage, which is characterized by a complete commitment to the new habit and a certainty that they will never go back to their old ways. For example, someone may find it hard to imagine giving up their gym routine, and feel ill at the thought of eating junk food on a regular basis.

                However, for the majority of people, it’s normal to stay in the Maintenance period indefinitely. This is because it takes a long time for a new habit to become so automatic and natural that it sticks forever, with little effort. To use another example, an ex-smoker will often find it hard to resist the temptation to have “just one” cigarette even a year or so after quitting. It can take years for them to truly reach the Termination stage, at which point they are no more likely to smoke than a lifelong non-smoker.

                How long does each stage take?

                You should be aware that some people remain in the same stage for months or even years at a time. Understanding this model will help you be more patient with yourself when making a change. If you try to force yourself to jump from Contemplation to Maintenance, you’ll just end up frustrated. On the other hand, if you take a moment to assess where you are in the change process, you can adapt your approach.

                So if you need to make changes quickly and you are finding it hard to progress to the next stage, it’s probably time to get some professional help or adopt a new approach to forming habits.

                The limitations of this model

                The model is best applied when you decide in advance precisely what you want to achieve, and know exactly how you will measure it (e.g. number of times per week you go to the gym, or number of cigarettes smoked per day). Although the model has proven useful for many people, it does have limitations.

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                Require the ability to set a realistic goal

                For a start, there are no surefire ways of assessing whereabouts in the process you are – you just have to be honest with yourself and use your own judgement. Second, it assumes that you are physically capable of making a change, whereas in fact you might either need to adjust your goals or seek professional help.

                If your goal isn’t realistic, it doesn’t matter whether you follow the stages – you still won’t get results. You need to decide for yourself whether your aims are reasonable.[6]

                Difficult to judge your progress

                The model also assumes that you are able to objectively measure your own successes and failures, which may not always be the case.[7] For instance, let’s suppose that you are trying to get into the habit of counting calories as part of your weight-loss efforts. However, even though you may think that you are recording your intake properly, you might be over or under-estimating.

                Research shows that most people think they are getting enough exercise and eating well, but in actual fact aren’t as healthy as they believe. The model doesn’t take this possibility into account, meaning that you could believe yourself to be in the Action stage yet aren’t seeing results. Therefore, if you are serious about making changes, it may be best to get some expert advice so that you can be sure the changes you are making really will make a positive difference.

                Conclusion

                The Stages Of Change Model can be a wonderful way to understand change in both yourself and others.

                While there’re some limitations in it, the Stages of Change Model helps to visualize how you go through changes so you know what to expect when you’re trying to change a habit or make some great changes in life.

                Start by identifying one of your bad habits. Where are you in the process? What could you do next to move forwards?

                Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

                Reference

                [1] Psych Central: Stages Of Change
                [2] Boston University School Of Public Health: The Transtheoretical Model (Stages Of Change)
                [3] Empowering Change: Stages of Change
                [4] Boston University School Of Public Health: The Transtheoretical Model (Stages Of Change)
                [5] Psychology Today: 5 Steps To Changing Any Behavior
                [6] The Transtheoretical Model: Limitations Of The Transtheoretical Model
                [7] Health Education Research: Transtheoretical Model & Stages Of Change: A Critique

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