By Peter Jeff
The Leadership Mints Guy
Here’s an idea to help you become more persuasive. Reading time: 3:21
Their eyes are 11 feet wide, eyes that sparkle, eyes that gleam, eyes that enliven the four Presidents of the United States carved into Mount Rushmore.
Their eyes are like so many 11-foot wide pools of promise and personality that better define the 60-foot tall faces of Presidents George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, and Theodore Roosevelt.
Their eyes seemingly come to life thanks to the genius of sculptor Gutzon Borglum. He chiseled into the white part of the eye large rectangular blocks of slightly raised marble that would more fully reflect the sunlight, adding a life-like sparkle to the eyes and an animated gleam to the entire 60-foot-tall faces.
The first time I saw that 11-foot-wide sparkle in the eyes, I sensed the power of the eyes to communicate even more poignantly than the voice. Maybe that’s why the most effective leaders I have ever known speak with their eyes as much as their voice. They embrace the notion that the eyes beam and gleam with the light of affirmation while the voice booms and looms with sound of information. And leaders know that people need to see first first for themselves, then to hear. They need to first be affirmed –then informed—- in order to be led more persuasively.
After all, leaders know that people believe what they see more than what they hear — whether you are in a 1-to-1 meeting or speaking at a staff meeting or delivering a speech to a large audience. That’s why 2,400 years ago, the Greek historian Herodotus noted: “Men trust their ears less than their eyes.”
Eyes Are The Windows Into Your Soul
After all the eyes are the windows into your soul as Shakespeare observed in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Judges in ancient China believe so thoroughly in the eye as the portal to the soul they donned dark glasses so that people in the court could not see what the judges were thinking. The judges knew their eyes spoke more loudly that their words. Eye-shade wearing poker players know that, too.
Indeed your eyes communicate long before you do. No wonder author Ralph Waldo Emerson observe the two-sided power of the eyes that can ” threaten like a loaded pistol, insult like a his or kid, or by beams of kindness make the heart dance with joy.”
Your Eyes Communicate Long Before You Do
Eyes.” Everything was old about the old man,” in The Old Man and the Sea, observes author Ernest Hemingway. ‘Everything except his eyes. They were the same color as the sea and were cheerful and undefeated.”
The eyes, those windows into the soul, are so telling, so fraught with meaning, so infused with passion and purpose, that the best leaders make every effort to do more than simple make eye contact when speaking to others.
They make a visual handshake –personally– with a specific person in the audience, their eyes locking on to each other as poignantly if not as intensely as Tony eyes Maria across the dance floor in West Side Story. And just as meaningfully.
No matter what obstacles are in the way—even through a bottom of a soft drink can, as author Bob Woodward, the author and former reporter Watergate fame, noted. Woodward recalls how President Bill Clinton kept perfect eye contact with him during an interview even when the President would pause to sip from a soft drink can.
The eyes are so revealing, so appealing so stimulating particularly on the silver screen. On the movie screen, actor Gary Cooper’s eyes spoke more clearly, more cogently, more convincingly that than his words. At least that’s how fellow actor Lloyd Nolan evaluated Cooper’s success after watching him film a scene in which Nolan felt that Cooper didn’t do anything extraordinary.
In fact, Nolan wondered what Cooper was being paid for. “But when you saw the rushes (the film shot that day), you knew,” said Nolan. “Picture acting is all in the eyes.” And so is communicating effectively. It’s all in the eyes. Just ask any “eye-deal” leader.
Speak with your eyes to keep your leadership thinking in mint condition.
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