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What it means when he blinks for longer than a split second

Negotiation touches every part of our lives. Relationships in business and in our personal lives are negotiated. And the skills to do it effectively can often mean the difference between getting what you want or losing out. You don’t get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate!

In the third section of the book, How to be a Great Negotiator, written by property economist, investor and developer Neville Berkowitz, we discuss and analyse the many different nonverbal, “body language” signals others give us during a negotiation, as well as how our bodies are communicating with the other party.

(Courtesy of PersonalEmpowerment.co)

Upper body

Eyelids and Eyelashes

The eyelids and eyelashes protect the eyes from dust, debris, and perspiration. The eyelids spread the lubricating tears and other secretions on the eye’s surface to keep it moist, as the cornea must be continuously moist, even during sleep. The blinking reflex protects the eye from foreign bodies and dryness.

The blinking rate increases when concentration is needed and clear eyes are required. The blinking rate also increases when there is stress, nervousness, irritation, agitation, impatience, or extreme tiredness. Excessive blinking indicates increased thinking, stress, and strain. It can also indicate a need for greater clarity, or be an attempt to block out another person due to boredom or disinterest – or a desire to “wipe away” what is in front of you. Winking is an intentional process that may indicate approval, affection, flirting, or some form of conspiratorial intimacy.

People in rapport with you are likely to blink when you pause during speaking. Sometimes a female listening or talking to a male she likes may lower her head, raising her eyebrows, and blinking in a slow or fluttering manner. This flirting gesture can appeal to a protective instinct in some men.

The acceptable blinking rate is a blink every 10 seconds or so. If the blink itself is much longer than a split second, the other person may be signalling that he or she is bored or impatient and wants to shut you out.

Closing the eyes indicates the need to shut off what is being confronted. It may also be a sign of intense concentration in order to visualise something without interruption.

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Entire books have been written about the power and meaning of eye contact. Here we will describe only major variations that are important to be aware of when you are in the midst of negotiation.

The emotions one often can read from “eye language” are signalled by four muscles surrounding each eye which automatically respond to the brain’s messages, especially when the brain senses surprise, fear, and anger. At such times these muscles react by opening the eyelids wider to allow a more complete visual field. The enlarged whites of fear-widened eyes due to the opened eyelids is a human alarm signal, and is absent in most monkeys and apes. There is a theory that man’s evolution required the whites of the eyes to be developed as a contrast to the dark pupil for easier silent signalling to each other during hunting or war parties, or when silence was required when hiding from danger. Thus, when you see someone’s eyes open and widen so that the whites can be seen all around, you can be sure that they are surprised by what they are seeing or experiencing.

Annoyance or assertiveness is indicated by intense staring, glaring, and lack of blinking, which causes the forehead skin above the eye socket to contract and appear to bunch up. A prolonged, unblinking stare or glare, especially when the brows are lowered and the eyes are narrowed, indicates anger or aggression.

Eyes looking down, avoiding eye contact, may indicate discomfort, dislike, aversion, and a wish to avoid personal contact. Eyes looking up and off to the side indicate thinking, reflection, or a search for clarity of thought or the right word.

Eyes that seem to stretch open and “light up” when one’s lips stretch and part indicate a genuine smile of appreciation or affection – a “happy- to-see-you” look.

Pupilseye contact resize

The diameter of the pupil changes automatically, depending upon the intensity or luminance of light that falls on the retina of the eye. This allows the pupil to contract protectively as light intensity increases, and to expand in diminished light to allow in more light.

The dilation or contraction of the pupils, independent of physical lighting conditions, reflects an emotional response to what is being seen. When someone is positively excited, when he or she genuinely likes what or whom he or she sees, that person’s pupils can enlarge up to four times their normal size. When you look at someone with “big eyes” of acceptance and affirmation, it often triggers a similar “big-eyed” response in them. This expanded pupil effect makes the eyes seem to “light up” with warmth, joy, enthusiasm, or affection.

Conversely, when angry or displeased, the pupils contract in a “beady-eyed” look that gives an impression of coldness, aloofness, or disapproval. Being on the receiving end of either of these looks is an entirely different experience. And, these are instinctive and unconscious responses that cannot be muscularly or wilfully controlled.


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