Saturday, July 2, 2011

Negotiation Secret # 127: What the Eyes Do

Chicago Mayor (and former White House Chief-of-Staff) Rahm Emanuel and former President Bill Clinton are seen here at the Clinton Global Initiative American Conference. When another encroaches into our personal space, there is a very strong and visceral impetus to turn our eyes away. Obviously both men are looking away from each other in this photo. Particularly, during the moment of a handshake, eye contact is incredibly important in demonstrating sincerity, trust and building rapport. Anything that diminishes eye contact should be avoided. Of particular importance in this example, the lack of eye contact is a symptom of the diminished comfort felt when personal space is invaded. Being very aware of what makes others comfortable or uncomfortable requires a continuous mindset of empathy and a de-focusing on oneself. Simple in concept...difficult in implementation.