The Eyes Have It: Five Keys for Effective Eye Contact

101813_lasson_elliotMost would agree that having quality eye contact is an advantage in life. It positively affects interpersonal relationships as well as workplace interactions. Here are five specific areas in which eye contact should be executed.

> Match with the verbal: In your initial approach to a new party or even someone with whom you already have established a relationship, eye contact should support what you are saying at the time. During an initial introduction to another person, you should make eye contact when stating your name. You should also be looking at the person when he/she states his/her name. Often, the close of a given interactive episode will conclude with a “thank you.” That is an opportunity to take leave of the person with a sincere expression of gratitude. When making a presentation to a group, part of effective public speaking is not reading directly off of one’s paper but to look up and engage the audience.

> Match with the nonverbal: Similarly, a key contribution to any interpersonal communication is the nonverbal. Two gestures that are most commonplace are the handshake and the smile. Shaking someone’s hand while looking over his shoulder will not engage the person. Furthermore, a smile combined with eye contact expresses that you want to be there. It shows interest and enthusiasm in what is being discussed. While this sounds basic, many job interviewees fail as a result of not attending to this. Consequently, the desire to work or be there is not conveyed.

> Don’t wander off: While making a positive first impression is part of the game, eye contact should not end with the handshake or initial introduction. While at times challenging, make a concerted effort to maintain eye contact throughout the conversation, be it formal or informal. Wandering off gives the impression that you are distracted, either from the discussion at hand or more generally.

> Don’t stare: Too much of a good thing is often counterproductive. Maintaining eye contact throughout an interaction is a reasonable goal. But if you don’t use selective diversion, you will come across as creepy and that will be a turnoff.

> Don’t leave anyone out: In many of our interactions, we are not communicating one-on-one but one-to-many. Focusing one’s eye contact and attention on a single person to the exclusion of the others will indicate that you are ignoring them and give the impression that you are not validating their presence. This can happen when interviewing with a panel or when you are making a presentation to a group. Make an effort to scan the room. We tend to focus on those who are either familiar to us or who we believe are the most influential people in the room. Sometimes, our guess of who is most influential will be correct; sometimes, we will guess incorrectly. But, even if you are correct, the others in the room, who might very well be your co-workers, will play some role in the hiring process. Or they might end up being your co-workers and, as such, are formulating their first impressions of you.

It goes without saying that eye contact that is devoid of substance will not be totally effective. As most things go, it is a package deal.

Spreading The Truth

Dr. Faheem Younus is quick to point out that the Quran does not encourage many of the things non-Muslim societies associate with Islam.

Dr. Faheem Younus is quick to point out that the Quran does not encourage many of the things non-Muslim societies associate with Islam.

Islam is a religion founded on tolerance, but extremism in some parts of the world and the tendency to turn complex issues into sound bites has created a lot of myths and misconceptions about the world’s second largest religion, said medical and religious professor Dr. Faheem Younus last Sunday afternoon. He was speaking to about 30 people, who had gathered at the Owings Mills branch of the Baltimore County Public Library to discuss Islam at a talk hosted by the Baltimore Jewish Cultural Chavurah.

The talk was led by Younus, a clinical associate professor of medicine at the University of Maryland and former national youth president of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA. He has lectured on “Islam: Fact and Fiction” and “Islam in the News” at campuses across the country.

“1.6 billion Muslims are not a monolith,” said Younus. “Everybody should have a right to define themselves.”

This concept of being able to define oneself has been a major force in Younus’ life. When he was 24 years old, he left his native Pakistan for the United States because of the religious persecution his Ahmadiyya Muslim sect was experiencing. After Sept. 11, 2001, he found himself faced with a lot of the same generalizing and suspicion he had fled from in Pakistan.

The Ahmadiyya sect is founded on the belief that the Messiah came in the form of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, who lived from 1835 to 1908. Ahmadiyya Muslims believe that Ahmad was sent by God to end religious war, and revive morality, peace and justice. The sect denounces terrorism and instead calls for intellectual “jihad of the pen” in order to defend their religion. They also advocate the separation of religion and government.

While there are many different sects and patterns of belief in Islam, Younus said, the Quran itself does not promote many of the things that mainstream society has come to associate with Islam.

“Things are taken out of context,” said Younus, in response to a question about the Quran’s instruction to kill nonbelievers.

When he hears of violent acts committed by Muslims, Younus told the group, he feels a sense of betrayal. Just as Jews would object to being lumped together with disgraced and convicted financier Bernard Madoff or Christians would resent being referred to as one with people who bomb abortion clinics, he and the members of his sect staunchly reject any association with extremist violence.

“Extremism is a virus,” Younus said, comparing it to a tumor that, left untreated, grows. The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, he said, believes it is the vaccine for that virus.

When an audience member asked Younus what he believes the right path for Islam to follow is in order to avoid allowing the sickness to spread, he replied “doing this.”

So much propaganda aimed at attacking the other side exists in both Muslim countries and Western countries, Younus said, that the best way to combat it is to spread truth and understanding across religious divides.

In 15 years of hosting BJCC meetings, co-presidents Bob Jacobson and Fred Pincus said Sunday’s discussion was the first time they had hosted a talk that focused solely on Islam.

“There is so much misinformation out there about Islam,” said Pincus, adding that he was pleased with how receptive those who attended the lecture were to Younus’ responses to their questions. “It’s the kind of dialogue that should happen.”

Attendee Charlotte Gelter-Warfield said she doesn’t come to many of the meetings hosted by the BJCC, but she made it a point to come to this one.

“The more information you have, the better it is,” she said of inter-religious understanding. “If you just keep talking, you’ll find more common ground.”

“It’s a question of seeking to understand,” noted Silvia Golombek, who is on the BJCC’s planning committee. “There will be areas we agree on and areas we disagree on, but we have to be open to listening to each other.”

Heather Norris is a JT staff reporter —

A Priest, A Rabbi And A CEO Walk Into A Bar …

Today with people’s short attention spans, companies that advertise sometimes are challenged in drawing attention to their ads.

If you’ve ever been to a comedy club, you know that the big laughs come from the comics who talk about topics that resonate with their audiences.  Whether it’s about problems with technology, dating woes, raising kids or uncomfortable airline seats, they talk about what their audiences relate to:

• “Dentists tell you not to pick your teeth with any sharp metal object. Then you sit in their chair, and the first thing they grab is an iron hook” (Bill Cosby).
• “Bowling’s great. You’ve got to love a sport where you can eat while you’re playing” (Jim Gaffigan).
• “Wal-Mart says they’re lowering prices every day; shouldn’t something be free by now?” (Café Mom).
• “How many of you are new parents?  Have you noticed the warning on portable strollers? It says: Remove child before folding. Really?” (Rich Mintzer).

Advertising works the same way. You want to stop talking about yourself, and start talking about whatever your potential customers relate to.  Your audience is not all that interested in your business. But they are interested in learning how:  how to look better, how to feel better, how to have more confidence and/or how to be more successful. They want to take something useful away from your ads. And you can make your ads useful.

Here’s a tip.  Look at your ads, and any time it says, we, us, me or mine, change it to you or yours. Make it all about your target audience.

Teach your audience and make them smile at the same time, dually educating and entertaining. I call this edu-tainment. For example, if you own a clothing store, instead of another ad with a stock photography model, take a page out of David Letterman’s book. Letterman has taken Top 10 lists to a new height in American culture. Yet, he doesn’t hold a patent on such lists.  So why not post a list of the Top 10 best-dressed Jewish businessmen in Baltimore? Lists not only resonate with potential customers, but also generate free publicity. Here’s another tip: Sometimes telling people what not to do is a great way to provide an entertaining and informative list.  For example, create a list of the Top 10 common fashion mistakes made by men (i.e., socks with sandals).

Another popular option today is with an info-graphic, using graphics to visually depict the message. For example, you might feature different types of shirts (spread-collar shirts, two-tone shirts, silk shirts, fight shirts, Bahamas shirts, etc.), and create an info-graphic centered around which men wear each type of shirt.  Good info-graphics go viral and can generate additional publicity for you.

So when preparing your ads, think like a comedian who works long hours to hone in on what will grab the attention of his audiences. Make a list of what interests your potential buyers, and write your copy with them in mind. If you would like to run some ad copy by me, I would be happy to let you know if it would score points with your audience.

Friedman Honored By Daily Record

101813_Friedman-Honored-Daily-RecordProfiles, Inc. has announced that The Daily Record has selected Amy Burke Friedman, vice president, to receive its 2013 Leading Women Award. The publication’s list of Leading Women honors 50 women who are 40 years of age or younger. A panel of six judges selected the honorees based on their professional experience, community involvement and commitment to inspiring change.

Frank Named Chair of Hospitals

101813_Frank-Named-Chair-of-HospitalsMedStar Health has named Dana Frank, M.D., F.A.C.P., as chairman of the integrated departments of medicine at MedStar Good Samaritan and MedStar Union Memorial hospitals. Frank has more than 31 years of experience as an internal medicine physician. He earned his medical degree from George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and completed both his internship and residency in medicine at the Johns Hopkins Hospital and the Kaiser Foundation. Dr. Frank also completed a fellowship in general internal medicine at Johns Hopkins University.

Bare Skinlabs Opens In Greenspring Station

Greenspring Station announced that Bare Skinlabs joined its mix of tenants in October, offering esthetic services that combine the latest in skin-care technology with custom-blended, organic products. Designed to be the area’s ultimate destination for beauty services and skin-care treatments, Bare Skinlabs will marry traditional services such as waxing, face care and body care with customized, organic products that will be used as part of the services, as well as available for purchase.

Despite Demand, County Won’t Install Bais Yaakov Traffic Light

The entrance to Bais Yaakov middle and high schools (left) concerns some area residents. But county officials say they have examined the area, and appropriate safety measures are in check. (David Stuck)

The entrance to Bais Yaakov middle and high schools (left) concerns some area residents. But county officials say they have examined the area, and appropriate safety measures are in check.
(David Stuck)

Ralph Jaffe first heard about the traffic jams at the entrance to Bais Yaakov School For Girls on Smith Avenue seven years ago from a concerned parent. Twice a day, before school and after school, parents and student drivers would wait for minutes to make a left turn, watching carefully for cars speeding down the hill.

Seven years and a traffic study later, Jaffe is still focused on the subject.

“It’s a bottleneck,” Jaffe, who lives off of Smith Avenue, said.

He, parents and neighbors have been rallying to get a traffic light at the intersection since then, and Jaffe said thousands have voiced their concerns to public officials; earlier this year, Jaffe reported 4,000 phone calls to county officials. The campus houses the school’s high and middle schools, and the Smith Avenue driveway in the only entrance and exit.

“I don’t want to see somebody getting killed before they decide to be smart and put the traffic light up,” he said.

Although some neighbors agree, and at least one school official said, a traffic light would be “nice,” Baltimore County studied the intersection and found that the numbers didn’t stack up.

“This particular intersection has traffic volumes on the side street that are extremely far from meeting standards that would require a traffic signal,” Baltimore County spokeswoman Ellen Kobler wrote in an email. “The reported accident history also shows a much safer-than-normal accident history at the intersection and the surrounding portion of Smith Avenue.”

A speed camera was installed at the intersection to try to calm traffic approximately one year ago, but Jaffe and others still think the intersection needs a light.

Shoshana Guttman, who lived near the intersection from 1997 until 2000, said the situation can be further complicated when there is an event at John Hopkins University’s Center for Talented Youth across the street with no one directing traffic.

“People are under a lot of stress, and they react because they go through this thing on a daily basis two times a day,” Guttman said. “Somebody needs to do something about it.”

According to a letter written by Baltimore County Department of Public Works Director Ed Adams to Jaffe, the county reviewed “traffic-turning movement volumes, delays, backups, measurements of speed data on Smith Avenue and a review of the last several years of reported accident information from the police department.”

“It is very clear from all this information that traffic signalization is not an appropriate treatment for this location,” the letter stated.

It also said that the delays are minor and not unusual for a school and that a review of accident history didn’t show anything unusual in frequency or pattern.

“In comparing this intersection to others throughout the county, we have literally hundreds of them that have higher traffic demands than this intersection,” Kobler said in her email. “The problems observed here are not unlike a large number of other public and private school driveways throughout the county (where there are likewise no traffic signals).”

In similar letters to James Callahan, senior director of Johns Hopkins Real Estate, and Sandy Nissel, chief operating officer at Bais Yaakov, Adams said sight-distance improvements and notifications to drivers have been implemented, and public works will continue to work with police to cut down on dangerous driving.

Nissel said the school prioritizes the safety of its students, parents, faculty and neighbors but respects the county’s decision.

“We give proper level of gratitude and respect to the county for all they’ve done for us, and we understand the county’s position,” he said. “They did a take a step and put in a speed camera, which is a positive step.”

While he said a traffic light would be “nice,” he accepts that the traffic study didn’t call for it.

“We’re concerned about the [community’s] concern, but there’s not much more we can do other than keep an open dialogue with the county,” he said.

Marc Shapiro is a JT staff reporter —

Port Discovery Receives $150K Grant

Port Discovery Children’s Museum has been awarded a $150,000 federal grant through the Museums for America program from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). With the grant, Port Discovery will design, fabricate, install and promote Here We Grow, a new exhibit that will explore agriculture through the themes of science and technology, history, local ecology, global economics and art. Port Discovery’s Here We Grow exhibit is one of 244 museum projects selected to receive an IMLS grant.

Here We Grow will help children and their caregivers develop an appreciation for the importance of agriculture in their everyday lives by understanding the con

UMD Breaks Ground On Research Building

University of Maryland School of Medicine Dean E. Albert Reece joined University of Maryland, Baltimore campus President Jay A. Perman in breaking ground on a 428,970-square-foot, 10-story, $305.4 million research facility that will enable the School of Medicine to retain its position as one of the leading biomedical research institutions in the world. This will be the largest building on the UMB campus.

The facility will provide both the laboratory space and new technology for the School of Medicine to continue to advance scientific discovery and breakthroughs in addressing the most critical disease categories.

Montessori School Changes Name

In August, The Montessori School and Emerson Farm Middle School changed its name to Greenspring Montessori School. Community members decided to change the name to better emphasize its connection to its Lutherville neighborhood, at the intersection of Falls and Greenspring Valley roads, across from Greenspring Station, and to unite all the school’s programs, which serve students 18 months old through grade 8.