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Communication and working relationships in sport and fitness
Communication and working relationships in sport and fitness

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7 Eye contact

The role of eye contact (its presence or absence) in face-to-face interaction is crucial. Eye contact during a neutral conversation lasts just a couple of seconds at a time.

Eye contact behaviour varies slightly in groups. If you are addressing a meeting, or coaching a team, eye contact can be vital for imparting a sense of inclusion, and also for holding attention. The speaker often ensures that everybody receives a share of the gaze.

Experienced coaches will know that prolonged eye contact in certain group situations can fulfil other functions, such as giving specific emphasis to part of a group.

You will have an opportunity to apply your initial learning to the communication exchanges in Chris Hoy’s motor racing pit stop video at the start of Session 2, delving a bit deeper into what was said in speech and non-verbal communication. Non-verbal communication is a form of feedback between those in a conversation and therefore interpreted by people and thus they respond accordingly. The following observation is from an Open University student:

I find Skype really difficult as I find the conversation cues difficult to read because there is no eye contact – in fact, I would far rather use face-to-face or phone.