The Importance of Eye Contact

The Importance Of Eye Contact

Taking a deeper look at a fundamental component of having quality, in-person exchanges.

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Nowadays, having a conversation with anyone not being paid to or paying to talk to you has become a fight of man versus machine, man versus nature, or mere man versus mind. Whether the spoken-to individual is answering a text or email, is looking around at passing scenery, or simply has his or her mind wandering aimlessly, I have found that it has become an increasingly difficult task to get others to not only hear what one is saying but to actually listen. The key to ridding in-person conversations of the ubiquitous "Uh huh," or repetitive "Yeah?" is rehabilitating, as a culture, the long-lost art of making eye contact.

In many parts of the world, eye contact is considered disrespectful or even "too intense" for regular day-to-day discussions. For example, in China, eye contact is made as a sign of disrespect, to indicate an individual is angry or is meant to challenge another. It is appropriate for an individual of higher authority to make eye contact with a subordinate, but never the other way around. Similarly, in Japan, children are taught to carry a "soft gaze" toward another individual by looking at his or her neck and always avoiding the eyes, so as to not appear rude while also having one's attention directed toward that person. In the United States and much of the West, however, being able to maintain strong eye contact is just as—if not more—important than having a firm handshake, both for professional and personal situations, yet has been diminished to near extinction by generations of people too caught up in listening to respond rather than listening to understand.

Eye contact, although it can sometimes be too intense or intimidating for a given situation, conveys so much more than just one's attention. As the adage goes, "The eyes are the windows to the soul," because they show emotion, interest or lack thereof, the way others are impacted by what is being said, flickers of thought, intention, personability, and respect. Intense, unbroken eye contact can signify one's desire to persuade, or can indicate profound interest or, conversely, immense dislike for an individual or for the conversation in general, while softer, friendly eye contact can reveal one's positive feelings toward another, and can add a layer of trust and warmth to both work-related and friendly exchanges.

Among men and women, young and old, sustaining eye contact after initial introductions has become a rarity, but especially among young adults engaging with one another. It was not until I was on my first date with my current boyfriend, who made sure to maintain eye contact through each story I told and memory we laughed about, that I was able to differentiate between past exchanges with my peers and the one I was having at that moment. Few things are more disheartening than looking across the space between another individual and I and finding that he or she is mentally elsewhere, so being made to feel like what I was saying mattered, was interesting, or at least was worthy of undivided attention not only made the other person more appealing to me, but also significantly improved the quality of the interaction as a whole.

It has been found that those who do not make eye contact with others do so for a variety of reasons. Most often, an individual may be hiding something or masking his or her true feelings, but it was also studied that eye contact is avoided more when an individual makes a sarcastic comment rather than a sincere one because of the indirect, joking nature of what may be passive-aggression. The most common reason for a lack of eye contact, however, is based in insecurity, as people do not want others looking too closely at him or her so as to not see a lack of or minimal self-confidence.

Whether one chooses to believe the "windows to the soul" expression or not, it is apparent that, if anything, one's eyes do reveal more about one's character and an internal state of being than almost any other physical attribute. Individuals who are kind, compassionate, genuine, and who lead lives of integrity have somewhat of a radiant glimmer or sparkle in their eyes, while those who maintain blank, lifeless expressions are almost always commensurately (and unfortunately) severely conflicted inside as well.

As a culture, we must consciously decide to no longer fear the judgments or gazes of others, regardless of the level of authority, age, familiarity, or status. The more we choose to accept ourselves and work on our self-confidence and in-person communication skills, while also being open to others, the easier it will be to push self-created discomfort and awkwardness aside, and look what may be one of many people's greatest fears in the eye, without hesitation and maybe even with a little conviction, too.

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The ABCs Of Greek Life

Greek Life From A to Z
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When you enter into Greek life, it's like having to learn a whole new language, but it's a language that everyone comes to love. So here's the Greek alphabet, from Alpha Chi to Zeta.

A is for Alum

The members of our chapter who have graduated. These members are a range of ages and can participate in all kinds of alumna events.

B is for Bid Day

The best day of the year when our chapters get to accept a new pledge class of members.

C is for Chapter

Our weekly meetings where we learn about sisterhood and philanthropy events, date parties, etc., as well as take care of any sort of chapter business.

D is for Date Parties

Some of the best nights of the year are getting dressed up with your friends and your dates and attending date parties.

E is for Executive Board

The people that make the chapter run smoothly. The chapter wouldn't function without your president, VP, finance, standards, etc.

F is for Fried Friday

The best day of the week at the house. When the chefs cook up chicken, mozzarella sticks, fried pickles, french fries, corn dogs, fried mac n cheese, fried corn, fried green tomatoes and whatever else your heart desires.

G is for Greek Week

One of the most competitive and most fun weeks of the year. Spent playing dodgeball, whiffle ball, doing dance-offs, and more!

H is for Hand Sign

No matter what sign it is, we love to throw what we know!

I is for Initiation

The day that we get to cross from new member to active member of our chapter.

J is for Just Here So I Don't Get Fined

As much as we love to hang out with our sisters, sometimes life gets in the way and we wish we had more free time. Sometimes we're only attending an event so that we don't get fined.

K is for Kick-Off

Of course, all college students love football but game day is something special when you're Greek. From getting ready with your sisters to eating at the house to tailgating with the fraternities, it's all a part of the game day experience when you're Greek.

L is for Letters

Our identity within the Greek community.

M is for Mom

Our house mom can never take the place of our real mom but she is great for lending an ear and helping solve any issues that come up within the sorority.

N is for Norts

Part of the "sorority girl uniform." We can't get enough of our Nike shorts

O is for Organized

With constantly running between classes, chapter meetings, and other events, you become extremely organized when you join a Greek organization.

P is for Philanthropy

One of the biggest reasons many people choose to go Greek. We love to spend our time, money and energy towards a cause that's close to our heart such as Ronald McDonald House, Make a Wish Foundation and CASA.

Q is for Queso

Okay, maybe a bit of a stretch but it's true! Ordering Fuzzy's to the sorority house or going out to eat at Moe's or Chuy's are not uncommon activities. We love chips and queso!

R is for Recruitment

The craziest week of the year where the chapter decides which PNM's would be the best fit for the chapter and new members run home to your chapter at the end of the week!

S is for Sisterhood

What a sorority is really all about. The friends you make in your sorority are some of the most interesting and genuine girls you'll meet!

T is for T-Shirt Tuesday

The one weeknight that tons of people go out. Whether you're at Harry's bar or Rounders, T-shirt Tuesday is sure to be a blast.

U is for Unique Experience

No two people have the same experience with Greek life. Whether you're the most involved person, just in it for the sisterhood, or you're fairly uninvolved, your experience will be different than everyone else's. You get out what you put in, as the saying goes.

V is for Vineyard Vines

One of many popular brands among sorority women and fraternity men alike.

W is for Wine Wednesday

Another fan favorite of the week is Wine Wednesday. Whether you're celebrating at Gallette's or from the comfort of your own dorm or apartment, Wine Wednesday is awesome.

X is for XL T-Shirts

Another part of the "sorority girl uniform". The bigger the T-shirt, the comfier and more confident you'll be. It's science.

Y is for Youth

Many philanthropies work with children, which is great because we love to spend time with the youth in and around Tuscaloosa!

Z is for Zero Sleep

When you're taking 14-18 credits, working, in a Greek organization and you're involved with several other organizations it's easy to see why we never get our full 8 hours of sleep. We're always going and we're fueled by coffee and a passion for whatever it is we're doing on and around campus.

Cover Image Credit: UA Panhellenic

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The Struggles Of Acting On Emotion Versus Logic

If not handled in a healthy way, you could hurt someone you care about.

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As human beings, we will always have reactionary responses when faced with conflict, action, or certain circumstances. It is up to us to make the choice of how we react, but based on who you are, you are either more emotional or logical.

As a person who acts off emotion in the moment, it can do more harm than good if you don't know how to control it. It can cause you to lash out at someone you care about, say things you may regret later, or only look at the present moment instead of seeing how this could affect the future.

All of this being said, acting off emotion can be good too. It means that you are more empathetic than the average person. Having empathy means that you have the capability to understand the emotions and feelings of other people. When an emotional person is in a healthy and good state of mind, they can handle conflict very well, and be there for other people.

For someone who tends to act off logic, this can look much different for you. Using logic to deal with life can make you come off as more stable, however, it can cause the following you to not be able to emotionally understand someone else, be defensive, and be unable to express how you are really feeling through words or actions.

I have had many interactions with people who are more logical rather than emotional. They handle stress very well, however, they can come off as rude or as if they don't care about you when in reality they just are unable to express how they feel. If not handled well, this kind of interaction can end friendships, partnerships, and relationships.

Every personality is different, but anyone can fall into one of these two categories. People who are more on the emotional side need to take reign of their emotions and use this gift of empathy that they possess to help impact those around them and help other people feel heard and understood. On the other hand, people who fall into the logical side need to be able to healthily express how they feel so they can get their point across in the kindest way and help others to see their side of things in a way that makes sense.

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