Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Eye Contact Question

I always hear about looking people in the eye or the power of eye-contact or the message you are sending by not looking someone in the eye. There was a rather involved story about it on the radio the other day which made me actually think about it (as opposed to just letting it bounce off my eardrums). Yeah, yeah. I know all this already.

**Warning, Warning!!** Okay, Em, take a step back! Any time I think I know everything about any one thing, I know something is wrong. A fool like me could obviously not know everything about anything! Got that?

I began to self-analyze. How is my eye-contact going? I realized that I do not look people in the eye. I look at their mouths. Why? Am I the only person that does this? When I was growing up, I was eternally embedded with a group mentally retarded children. (My parents took in Developmentally Delayed foster children from the time I was seven years old.) Most of these children had varying degrees of speech impediments. One of my parents also tends toward mumbling, though I don't know that this person is aware of it. I think my trying to understand the people around me compelled me to develop the habit of looking at the mouth of the speaker, rather than the eye. I am still pretty good at understanding the speech of a person (whether one with a speech impediment or foreign accent) whom others may have difficulty interpreting.

Teeth are super important to me, too. My one recurring dream is that my teeth are loose or falling out. I'm willing to find the thousands of dollars to make sure my kids have the orthodontic care they need--even if it means a lot more beans and rice and driving a squealing, screeching car. I sometime forget to even notice eyes.

Is this bizarre? Where do you look when conversing with someone?


  1. I have trouble looking people in the eye when I speak to them, but my issue is more of a social anxiety thing.

  2. You said re-acquiring dream. Do you mean re-occurring?
    Anyway, I think I look in the eye, unless the eye stare is returned full force and then it's a bit awkward, so I must look away. But I think, "Oh no, they aren't going to stare ME down, so I return the stare even harder. I make them look away! Wait a minute-- I'm sounding like a dog here aren't I?

  3. Betsy and Emily,

    I'm sorry to bring this up but....
    re-occurring or reoccurring is not technically correct.....either.

    The word I believe you both are thinking of is "recurring".

  4. I always have the teeth falling out dream when I'm pregnant...along with a lot of other really terribly themed dreams about my sweet children. Ugh! And I think I look at people's eyes...hmmmm, I might have to pay more attention to that. My husband looks at my chest.


    Check this out--pretty interesting.

    I had the teeth falling out dream twice. It was during a time when I felt powerless.

    I look in peoples eyes, but I have had people who always seem to look at my hair or mouth--drives me a little crazy. It always makes me think they are staring because there is something wrong.