Eyes Accessing Cues: Where a person is looking might tell you more than you think
Eye contact is a vital part of human connection. But what does it mean when people break eye contact? It is likely that this is a representation of the brain searching for and processing information.
Eyes Accessing Cues can help people understand the thought processes of others. They are part of neurolinguistic programming (NLP), a toolkit for harnessing the influence of language and the language of influence.
Interpreting eye contact is akin to learning another language. Once you learn how to read eye contact, however, you can find yourself in a fantastic position to get the most from social, professional, personal, and romantic situations.
The human brain is deeply complex, and no two people’s brains work the same. Therefore, having one system to fit all is not foolproof – some people are simply harder to read than others.
However, this article will help you get a general idea of how to interpret these cues and what they mean for you.
What are Eyes Accessing Cues?
The eyes are the closest organ to the brain, and they have a powerful link.
While the basic science of how eyes work is pretty amazing – light enters the eye, the retina absorbs it, and the optic nerve interprets it and lets the brain form an image – the link with the brain goes deeper.
The eyes tend to look in different directions when a person recalls different information and processes in their brain. In particular, according to NLP practices, the eyes give away which “representational systems” a person is accessing in response to a particular question.
People’s eyes naturally move when they’re calculating an answer to something – they even move when a person dreams – so being able to read those movements is a powerful took for taking control of social interactions.
The whole “left hemisphere/right hemisphere” theory of the brain, in which certain types of memory and capability are stored in the left or right hemisphere and affects the way the eyes move, is a gross oversimplification of an organ as brilliant and involved as the brain.
These representational systems are much closer to showing how the brain switches between modes. They also provide an indication of the giveaway signs we use to demonstrate those cognitive switch-ups in a readable way.
Every brain is unique, so people organise these systems in different ways, meaning the points below don’t apply to everyone. The most common neuro-optical setup develops in Normally Organised people. These people will often show the cues below.
As a note, when I say “top-right”, I mean as you’re looking at them. If these cues are going to be useful in a conversation, they need to be from the perspective you’d have in the moment. Bear that in mind when reading the following cues.
The 6 Eyes Accessing Cues for people with Normally Organised systems are:
- Visual remembered: This is a person recalling visual memories and images from their recent or distant past. This will most likely happen when a person is recounting a story or speaking to an individual with whom they have a history. A person will look up to the top right of their eye when accessing this representational system.
- Audio remembered: When a person sings a song or remembers a conversation, their eyes may well drift to the right and mid-level.
- Self talk, or calculations: if a person has been asked a difficult question and is struggling to put together an answer, or is experiencing self doubt and has a negative narrative in their head, they are likely to look down towards the lower right of the eye.
- Visual constructed: This is the realm of imagination. If you ever see a freestyle rapper perform, you’ll see their eyes drift towards the upper left part of the eye as they improvise lyrics and imagery. Equally, it’s a handy way to spot someone who might have decided to be economical with the truth.
- Tactile:/Kinaesthetic A glance to the lower left suggests that touching or physical sensation is on a person’s mind. They might be thinking about how to fix that tap later on, or their mind may be in a more sexual place. They might be remembering how their last meal tasted. They might just want to get up and have a kickabout. The tactile or kinaesthetic brain is about touching and doing.
A variation on this organisation is Reverse Organised. Their eyes accessing cues are the exact mirror of the above representational systems.
Why is this useful?
NLP is a powerful tool for persuasion and social cohesion.
Imagine knowing what the other person in a conversation was thinking and being able to shape the conversation. Eyes accessing cues allow that.
A person who keeps furtively glancing towards the lower left of the eye might be experiencing negative self-talk. An empathetic person might see this when someone says “I’m fine” and probe a little deeper to find out what’s really up.
A salesman fluent in NLP might have other ideas. If someone shows signs that they’re accessing the self-talk representational system, the salesman may shape their approach to close, as the person might be starting to come round to the idea of the sale.
A skilled salesman alters how they talk to suit the audience. NLP cue patterns can help a person shape their language to suit the way the other individual processes life. A person talking to a visual thinker might want to use phrases like “I see what you’re saying” a little more than they would. Communicating to people in the register of their internal monologue is powerful.
These cues can help in the classroom. These representational systems affect how we absorb information, so a teacher can adapt their style to individual pupils. Some people are tactile learners – they pick up skill best when actively doing them.
In dating, if your partner starts accessing the tactile brain around you, they may be looking get physical. Their brain has started processing sensation more heavily, as well as wanting to engage in activity.
No system for reading people is perfect. However, this can give enough of a suggestion to support smoother conversation that goes your way.