1 - Eye contact is a polite way to start conversations

Erving Goffman in his book "Behavior in Public Places" studied the way people interacted in twos and threes and small groups and looked at how people move from unfocused interactions, where they're in the same place but not together, to encounters, where they're actually talking to each other.

He saw that people didn't just start talking but used ambiguous expressive communication to ask if it was *okay* to start talking first.

Hang on, expressive communication? Right, he made a division into two kinds of messages:

Linguistic messages are your spoken ones. You speak about whatever you want, and deliberately communicate the meaning you want to communicate. Like me giving this talk.

Expressive messages are the ones you - you're the message receiver - *glean* about me. The fact I chose to use this particular word rather than another. My body language. The fact I'm here at all! A nervous laugh.

Expressive messages are usually involuntary, but you can pretend if you want: that's like a poker face.

The great thing about expressive messages is that your intention of sending them is usually unclear -- or at least unprovable! The reason I'm talking, and talking is linguistic communication, is to give you information, so much is obvious, but if I look in your direction am I trying to get your attention, or just staring into space?

So Goffman found that a person would try to start a conversation with a glance that is...