Social Question

answerjill's avatar

Advice for people who have trouble making eye contact with others?

Asked by answerjill (6170points) August 8th, 2017

I sometimes feel like it is challenging to maintain eye contact with others. Do you have any advice for getting over this form of shyness or anxiety? (Note: I am not autistic.)

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9 Answers

JLeslie's avatar

Practice. Also, concentrate on active listening. When I focus on someone while they are talking it’s their face in general, both eyes and I would say mouth is even more important, because if someone pronounces something differently than I do, or speaks too softly, the way to “hear” better is watching their mouth. It’s part of why talking on the phone can be more difficult than in person.

When I meet someone, and shake hands, I look right into their eyes. When someone during a conversation starts to go off on an important piece of information I shift my body if I’m not already squarely looking towards them, and I meet their eyes—they have my attention, and they know it. Then quickly I can relax a little, it’s not that an intense stare into the eyes has to be ongoing for a long extended period. The gaze comes and goes as you take in what the person is saying, and as you think and respond.

Love_my_doggie's avatar

You really don’t want to “maintain” eye contact. An intense, unbroken gaze is discomforting for both parties.

Instead, establish eye contact and hold it briefly, until you’ve made a connection and let the person know that s/he has your attention. Then, let your eyes wander down or to the side as you listen; you’ll have a thoughtful appearance. Return to eye contact when you respond, but, again, don’t linger for too long. It isn’t natural to drill someone with nonstop eye contact, and people who do so come across as creepy.

Try practicing this technique, and you’ll likely find it very easy. If you’re still unsettled by looking directly into someone eyes, look at the top of the person’s nose, between his/her eyes, instead.

JLeslie's avatar

^^Better description than mine. It’s specific moments where the eye contact is important.

answerjill's avatar

Thanks to both of you!

filmfann's avatar

Learn how to hypnotize people.

Zaku's avatar

I recommend doing interpersonal work or training where you practice being with people in an intentional instructive setting. And/or working on one’s own “material”, as my experience with such suggests to me that it tends to indicate that there’s healing work to do, which can be well worth working on.

I would not think of difficulty maintaining eye contact to be shyness per se or anxiety in general. There are outgoing folks who also have trouble with eye contact. But I think it can be useful as a way to explore what is going on for someone when they try to relate to others, which can be very much worth looking at what the discomfort is about and exploring and healing that (it will be different for each person).

Love_my_doggie's avatar

@filmfann You’re getting sleepy… You’re getting sleepy… You will put all your money into a large, padded envelope and send it to @Love_my_doggie. You will do this now. So very sleepy…

MrGrimm888's avatar

Well. You’re missing a huge opportunity to know a lot about whomever you are speaking to. The eyes never lie… I don’t trust anyone, but I really don’t trust someone who won’t look me in the eyes…

Perhaps this is a self confidence issue…

kritiper's avatar

Try hypnosis. Insecurity is not something one can easily flip off like a switch by oneself.

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