Is eye contact unbecoming of a state senator?

Photo: Stare by malloreigh | Flickr Creative Commons

The Minnesota Senate has affirmed a ban on eye contact with senators during floor debate.

“On a 15-44 vote, the Senate decided to keep its current requirement that all speakers must gaze at the Senate president,” wrote Pioneer Press reporter Rachel Stassen-Berger

“Our decorum would probably not be as Senate-like as we would like to have it,” Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk (Pioneer Press).

Bakk added he doesn’t want floor arguments getting overly personal. The rule might help senators be more persuasive during floor debates.

Eye contact is a poor way to win people to your way of thinking, according to researcher Francis Chen.

That averted gaze may be more powerful than that “persuasive” stare. “If they’re already avoiding eye contact with you,” Chen told NPR, “especially if you’re saying something potentially threatening to them, maybe think twice before insisting that they make eye contact with you.”

Today’s Question: Is eye contact unbecoming of a state senator?