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The Power of Eye Contact in Hospitality

The Eyes Chico, They Never Lie. I’m pretty sure you’ve heard this before right? Well, I’m here today to tell you that it’s true. There’s something about the way our eyes can communicate without having to say a word that is so powerful.

As human beings, words and speech are not our only way to communicate. Our body language and our eyes can sometimes say more than words can.

Eye contact can be “intimidating” at times. For example, we all kind of avoid it in elevators, or subway stations, because we are so close to each other that it might feel aggressive or invading in some ways. But the truth is, holding eye contact is a way to emotionally connect with someone.

Maria Navarro

When you work in hospitality you learn about the power of body language. We learn how to read a room. We learn how to read people so we know what they need without even asking.

The pandemic really changed the game for the hospitality industry in particular. The whole foundation of hospitality is the interaction with people. How we treat them, how we make them feel. And what happened during the pandemic? People stopped seeing our whole faces. They couldn’t really see if we were smiling or not, but they could feel it. Why? Because they looked into our eyes. They read our body language.

Having half of our faces covered for such a long time felt like it put a distance between one another. Sometimes, we didn’t even recognize people with a mask on. We learned to appreciate the smallest gesture. It was a challenging time for everybody, but we were all in it together. Working in hospitality during the pandemic meant having the opportunity to make someone feel good. To remind ourselves that the power of human connection could make us all feel better.

I learned so many things when the pandemic hit, and one of them was not to take anything for granted. Even the smallest human interaction can be so powerful and we don’t even notice sometimes.

Let me tell you, the way in which you look at people matters. When we make eye contact with someone it means we’re acknowledging them. People want to feel special. They want to feel welcomed. Eye contact is just as important as being polite and saying hello to someone.

That’s why I think we need to pay attention to how we look at people. To not be afraid and make eye contact with our guests, our coworkers, our managers, and our staff.

It doesn’t matter on which side of the table you’re on. Whether you’re a server or you’re being served. Take the opportunity and let people know you appreciate them with a smile.

To me, making eye contact with a guest is saying “Welcome, I’m so happy you’re here”. And you want to know the best part? They know that. People feel the difference when you’re looking at them and when you’re not.

Let’s not forget how powerful our body language can be. A smile. A frown. A sigh. A moment of eye contact.

Our eyes won’t lie, so don’t take for granted the power that they have.

Maria Navarro is a new contributor to hertelier. Born and raised in Mexico, Maria moved to the US with big dreams! Though only 26 she has a passion for hospitality and has worked in a variety of management positions for luxury hotels. Now Maria is pursuing her other love––writing about hospitality––and has launched her eponymous copywriting company, offering services in both English and Spanish. Feel free to get in touch with Maria for any writing projects!


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