This week’s Meetology® Minute is rather unusual because rather than giving you some insights on how to connect with others more effectively I’m going to advise how to do the exact opposite and PREVENT interaction. Let me explain,

Here in the UK a popular way for charities to elicit donations is to employ people to approach the public on the street and convince them to donate to the cause they represent. You’ll often find these people canvassing in heavily populated areas such as railways stations or major high streets and I think it is fair to say that over the years they have generated a mixed reputation. In fact they have been nicknamed ‘charity muggers’ and, from a personal view at least, I have an issue with their false over-friendliness as well as the high commissions they are alleged to receive. Now I’m very comfortable with what I give to charity each year but make sure donations are efficient and that the money doesn’t get lost in funding unnecessary overheads and I, along with many others, made a decision many years ago to never give to charity via this channel.

However, this obviously doesn’t stop them approaching me and last week a certain charity had set up numerous ‘chuggers’ (as they are nicknamed) along a busy street near the railway station in the town where I live. I gave a friendly “thanks, but no thanks” to the first 2 who approached but increasing got annoyed as this continued with the chuggers trying ever-more nauseating ways of getting me to engage. (Do not try to give a 44 year-old Englishman man a high-five, especially if you have never met him before!).

So what does one do? Well, I turned to psychology and I did something that immediately prevented anyone being able to engage with me and I wonder if you can guess what it is?

What I did was simple – I bought my sunglasses down over my eyes so that they couldn’t make eye contact and the difference was incredible. It was an impenetrable barrier that prevented them connecting with me and supported the vast amount of research out there that highlights just how powerful eye contact is when it comes to interaction.

Now you can of course use this insight when you don’t want to connect with someone as I did but also choosing to make eye-contact can obviously have the opposite effect and help start an interaction. The message this week is simple – if you are trying to catch the attention of someone you may want to engage with – don’t wear sunglasses!

Have a good week and I’ll be back in 7 days with some more Meetology® – the fascinating psychology powering exceptional people skills.



Jonathan Bradshaw
The Meetology® Lab


Excellent eye contact article from the BPS: