When you are speaking to a person and they do not make eye contact with
you, are they lying? Not necessarily. Studies have shown that lack of
eye contact while speaking with someone is driven more by some overwhelming emotion
rather than truthfulness. Could the person you are speaking to be lying?
Sure they could - the overwhelming emotion that person is feeling may
stem from the fact they are lying to you. However, it is equally true
that the person may not make eye contact due to some other emotion: embarrassment,
fear, etc. Lack of eye contact is not really a good gauge of truthfulness.
So why is it important?
It is important because people expect it. It is important because people
believe, whether correct or not, that it is body language that signifies
truthfulness. The importance of eye contact is so ingrained that it is
futile to fight it.
I always tell my clients to remember that when they testify, they should
make eye contact with the jury or Judge. They need to engage the person
or persons who will ultimately make the decision as to whether they win
or lose on their case. While eye contact may signify nothing, its importance
lies in the expectation of the receiver. So, let the receiver have what
Steven H. Kaminski, Esq.