Oldtimer, I don't want to offend you but feel that I must reply here that in many cultures it is considered to be rude for a woman to look directly into a man's eyes, or for a younger person to do that with an older person. Very likely, to her viewpoint, you were staring and she was trying to maintain a respectful distance, and stay on friendly terms. Looking directly into someone's eyes is also considered to be a flirtatious opening or even a sexual/romantic "comeon" in almost all cultures that I know of. Many religiously devout people of both sexes practice "conservation of the eyes" when speaking even with close friends of the opposite sex. Many of my friends do so, and I understand and don't fault them for it.
In some cultures, a too direct look or stare is an invitation to fight, and makes people tend to get combative or withdraw for their own protection. (Called "Hard looks" in the barrio and "Stink eye" in Hawaii!)
One of the "tells" of a Scientologist and some former Scientologists (or an OSA operative sent in to a group as a "spy" or enturbulator) is how aberated the way they look at people is, from the norm of mainstream culture. They do tend to stare, give hard looks, look directly too much and for too long into one's face, try and "capture" someones eyes and attention in this way. Even when they are talking and smiling, they still tend to put people off and make them uncomfortable, often folks can't pinpoint exactly what it is, something just seems "off" about them, due to their habitual too direct gazes and staring at someone.
At the risk of being stoned...I will also report that many social workers, teachers, cops, mental health workers and others are taught in their training that in a person who is looking at someone too directly, holding a gaze for too long, or refusing to drop one's eyes in conversation, that is a "tell" of certain kinds of mental illness. Really! I got this in my professional training.
I think Ron did it to try and make his paramilitary group intimidating. It does not imply good communication skills at all, in and of itself.
No, I was just doing a pretty good TR, which is what most sociable people in Kansas are able to do. And I know it was her TR's, because today I got a haircut in the same shop from my favorite, who is hilarious, and she did not have any trouble looking at me when I was paying her and leaving the store. As far as different cultures, you might have something there. I have not studied up on cultures, so I do not doubt you on that part at all. Have a good evening.