Is Eye Contact Overrated, Power and Eye Contact

Is Eye Contact Overrated?

I think that speakers make less eye contact than listeners and that is really what this research finding shows rather than any truths about debating. 


Is eye contact overrated?
Don't look now, but...
Traditionalists and high-powered guys with Machiavelli on their Kindles will probably tell you that looking straight into another person's face and maintaining unflinching eye contact is the age-old secret to the Powers of Persuasion. In actuality, though, the opposite may be true, especially in the midst of a heated debate.
"Debate" is the operative word here. Unlike previous psychological studies analyzing the bonds forged when a mother stares into a baby's eyes, or when two lovers tenderly lock gazes, this time a team of researchers from Harvard University and the University of British Columbia sought to understand eye contact from a different vantage point: Does looking into another person's eyes really help your cause when you're trying to win an argument?
The short answer: Perhaps not. The new paper, published in the journal Psychological Science, only took a look at 20 participants, but the results are intriguing. Researchers had subjects share their opinions on contentious issues, such as affirmative action and assisted suicide, then watch recorded talks by a speaker on those same topics. At the same time, researchers used eye-tracking technology to determine when and (more importantly) if participants were looking at the eyes of the person in the recording.
When participants shared an opinion with the speaker, they were more likely to establish eye contact. But when they disagreed, suddenly their gaze was less focused. "The participants were less likely to change their opinions if they were looking into the eyes of the speaker, especially when the speaker was also looking directly at the participant, rather than to the side of the screen," says Alexander Sifferlin at TIME:
To test this again, the researchers had the participants watch more videos, but sometimes they were told to look into the speaker's eyes, and other times they were instructed to look at the speaker's lips. The participants who looked into the speaker's eyes were once again less likely to change their opinions compared to participants focusing on the speaker's lips. [TIME]
Now, most people simply aren't accustomed to making consistent eye contact. "Your eyes naturally go back and forth between the eyes and the mouth," co-author Julia Minson, a psychologist and assistant professor at Harvard, tells Forbes. "There's also some time when your eyes just wander around."
Of course, the study does have its flaws. Video interaction is a poor substitute for person-to-person interaction, so all those reactive subtleties communicated by body language are lost in transmission.
Still, not locking eyes may be your best tactic going forward if you're trying to make a point. Putting your phone away probably helps, too.

Is eye contact overrated?
Don't look now, but...

Patti Wood, MA, Certified Speaking Professional - The Body Language Expert. For more body language insights go to her website at Check out Patti's website for her new book "SNAP, Making the Most of First Impressions, Body Language and Charisma" at Also check out Patti's YouTube channel at

How to Use Tech Tools in the Doctors Office and Still Serve Your Patient.

How to Use Tech Tools in the Doctors Office and Still Serve Your Patient.
I speak  to  and consult with Doctors, Nurses and other Health Care professionals about body language and patient care and advise hospitals and medical offices on how to design their office space and use technology in ways that best serve the patient and the bottom line.  There are 4 new tech tools that have the potential to interrupt the rapport and trust that needs to occur between the patient and the health care professional.
Steps for Using Technology in Patient Care to Show More
 The most important thing to remember is to think, look at, touch and interact with the patient First before thinking about looking at, touching or interacting with technology. So for example coming in with your smart phone (that now has the EKG technology available) in your hand and ready to show the patient as you are introduced. Have it put away. Greet the patient, establish rapport, discuss the technology then show the technology in a way that makes it a part of the two of you as a unit rather than the technology as the magic device. If the patient is male that means standing or siting side by side with them as you introduce the technology if the patient is a women that means ideally interacting face to face and introducing the technology. (See my blogs and articles on side by side vs face to face.)
 Below are the four new tech tools. Which ones are you using in your office.
Patti Wood, MA, Certified Speaking Professional - The Body Language Expert. For more body language insights go to her website at

4 tech tools that are disrupting the doctor's office
Need to take an ECG? There's an app for that now.
n 2013, technology permeated health care like never before. Diagnostics came to our smartphones, robots came to our surgery rooms, and Dr. Phil invested in a startup that wants to facilitate online doctors' visits.
Here are four groundbreaking medical tools that either hit shelves or revved up development this year:

A smartphone case that can charge your phone is handy, but a smartphone case that can record and transmit an ECG takes the cake. This spring, the FDA approved AliveCor, a black case with silver censors, for over-the-counter sales. The tool helps users monitor their heart palpitations by simply placing her fingers over the censors, then transmitting the recording to a doctor.
This has several benefits. First, any patient experiencing the kind of random heart arrhythmia they can't self-induce in a doctor's office can simply buy one, record when the irregularity occurs, and send the data to a doctor. After a doctor diagnoses the problem and writes a prescription, the device can also serve to gather information about how a prescription is working.
A third benefit: AliveCor can help reassure a patient with a harmless or even phantom murmur that nothing is wrong — making life a little easier for hypochondriacs and their doctors.
CellScope Oto
This one is especially beneficial for physicians who work with children, and therefore parents.
The tool is essentially a camera-fitted Otoscope (that flashlight thing doctors stick in your ear during a physical) that attaches to a smartphone. The doctor can view the inside of a patient's ear, take photos of an ear drum, and store those photos for later use. Then, when a patient has an ear ache, the doctor can compare the photos taken during a healthy physical with the new photos to both make a diagnosis, and help parents understand what's going on inside their children's ears.
If the CellScope Oto becomes available to parents, they could perform ear exams on their children and send the photos to a doctor. This could help them avoid unnecessary doctor's visits, where the kids risk picking up a bug in a waiting room.
The anesthesiologist robot
Anesthesiologists, some of the highest paid doctors, are responsible for administering sedation and keeping a patient ticking during surgeries. This year, Johnson & Johnson released what some are calling a robot anesthesiologist — a system named Sedasys that "automates the sedation of many patients undergoing colon-cancer screenings called colonoscopies," says The Wall Street Journal.
Anesthesiologists see big problems with the bots, warning they may not be able to respond accurately to complications. But tests so far show the machines are not only safe, but may even reduce the risk of over-sedation. And hospitals see a clear benefit: Cost. J&J will lease the machines to doctor's offices for about $150 per procedure, compared to the $600 to $2,000 that anesthesiologists typically charge.
Scanadu Scout
This year, a Silicon Valley startup drew funding to develop a device fit for Spock: A small tricorder shaped like a hockey puck that can monitor all kinds of vital signs. By holding it up to the temple, a patient can monitor her heart rate, temperature, and respiratory rate as well as measure oxygen levels in blood, and run an electrocardiogram.
This could be a kind of holy grail of telemedicine — something that allows patients to communicate a lot of health data quickly and remotely to their doctors.
Again, this could help nervous types avoid unnecessary emergency visits, and allow doctors to urge those in trouble to go to the emergency room stat. Scanadu hopes to have it set and ready to ship by early 2015.

Patti Wood, MA, Certified Speaking Professional - The Body Language Expert. For more body language insights go to her website at Check out Patti's website for her new book "SNAP, Making the Most of First Impressions, Body Language and Charisma" at Also check out Patti's YouTube channel at