This week, I had the pleasure of speaking to over 400 high school students over two days. These juniors and seniors come from six different community high schools to attend one amazing career center in the great state of Ohio. So not only are these students’ new juniors and seniors this year, they are also taking classes with juniors and seniors that may not attend the same high school.
As the student’s entered the cafeteria to take their assigned seats, each group seemed to mirror the other as they all looked on with great caution, curious as to what this hour-long departure from their regular schedule would be about.
Kermit, my husband, better known as “D.J Kermit” cranked up a mixture of tunes, trying to find that “one” that would relax the mood a bit and help the students settle in and enjoy the moment.
As I looked out into the mask covered faces, I suddenly felt the student’s eyes communicating with me! In my four years of speaking, I had never felt the audience communicate in such a powerful way. It seemed as if these students’ eyes were equipped with voice. Although silent, the voices were really loud and seemed eager to share and introduce themselves to me, “Hi, I’m nervous;” “Hello, I’m frustrated;” or “Good day! I’m encouraged.” Every once in a while a student's voice would echo the message of his or her eyes as they shared a response to a question or posed a question of their own.
I suddenly realized that in this mask faced world, there is a new and different kind of communication happening around us. With all the rules of social distancing, no large gatherings, and face covering, there is a lot more being communicated if we take time to silence our minds and pay attention.
I’ve often heard people say that “the eye is the window to the soul” but never really knew what was meant by this statement until now. When your attention is not distracted by the other parts of the face, and only a person's eyes are exposed, you really do venture into heart and spirit of that person. There is a transfer of energy that the sometimes deceptive lips can't conceal.
As the students fixed their eyes on mine, I could feel the hearts of those students that longed to do or say something different but feared stepping out to take a risk. I could feel those students who wanted to ask a question but didn’t want to expose to others how they were really feeling. Even though their lips were silent when a question was posed, I could see their eyes communicating a response.
Although there were only a few students in each group that raised their hands or stood up i to verbally respond to a question; all the student’s eyes silently communicated their emotions and how they were feeling at the time.
Yesterday, my eye communication theory was confirmed when I received an email from one of the students asking me for tips on how to be more positive. This was further confirmation for me that while people may not verbally communicate their interest, they are paying attention.
This week, as you venture out to your local market, fuel up your car, or even stop into a restaurant, take a moment and pay attention to what others’ eyes are communicating. And if you’re a teacher, instructor, or leader pay close attention to your students’ or employees eyes and listen to what they’re trying to communicate. Remember, the Eyes have it, and when you give them your attention, they will show you their world.
Stay safe, but most importantly, stay positive!