I am reblogging an article from David Kanigan’s excellent Live and Learn because it stirred my soul. It’s the first time I have reblogged like this, so hope it works ok.
It got me thinking about how this is all part of the depressing degradation in our relationship building skills. We find it harder and harder to give each other real eye contact.
Let me give a few examples:
I deliver a lot of training using video conferencing tools such as WebEx. It is unusual to see people actually turn on their camera so they can so each other. Is this because they are naked from the waist down (the usual excuse given), or is it a symptom of a deeper malaise?
Take a look at people in restaurants eating a meal together. How often are they giving each other unbroken eye contact?
I love the idea of Marina’s exercise. Terrifying to do, no doubt, but so powerful. Think how you could use this at work. I think the time has come for the silent performance review. Now that WOULD be daunting!
Have a read and see what you think. How about planning some proper eye contact with someone important? As some of David’s readers have suggested, maybe that person is you?
“Try not to blink,” says the performance artist Marina Abramovic. “The more you blink, the more you think.” In the spring of 2010, Abramovic spent over 700 hours looking into the eyes of more than 1,500 visitors to the Museum of Modern Art. Many wept openly. Sometimes Abramovic cried, too. To really experience the power of eye contact, she suggests a minimum of one hour of sustained gaze.
Place two chairs three and a half feet apart, and sit facing someone. Do not talk or touch. Focus your eyes between that person’s brows, so that you can see both pupils simultaneously. Don’t look away. Eye contact elicits avoidance behavior in many species, but humans are exquisitely attuned to it. Even newborns will look longer at people staring straight at them than they will at those with averted eyes…
To really see — and feel connected to — someone, you…
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