General Question

ducky_dnl's avatar

How can I force myself to make eye contact when talking to people?

Asked by ducky_dnl (5384points) August 20th, 2010

I’m fairly shy when it comes to talking to people in real life. I’m a social butterfly when it comes to online, texting, etc. Whenever I talk to someone I will not look them in the eyes. I know people take this as me being rude, but I can’t make eye contact with them. I’m scared to look people in the eyes. How can I force myself to look people in the eyes? My friend tells me to count for five seconds, but the moment I look up..I’m looking back down a second later. I hate not making eye contact, but it’s scary and I utterly don’t like doing it. I feel all exposed when I look people in the eyes. I know I have to start doing it eventually, so how can I start? Looking in the mirror doesn’t help. I can’t even look my own self in the eyes. :/ Also, what could cause this?

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20 Answers

zen_'s avatar

Did you see Daloon’s recent question?

I’d love for him to discuss this with you – and perhaps you’ll read my posts in his thread?

I don’t want to rewrite everything here – but it’s quite relevant to the Q.

I’m “sending” this Q to him.


jerv's avatar

Honestly, I find it easier to do now that I am egotistical.

I used to be shy in part because I based my sense of self-worth on how others perceive me. Once I started to base it more on how I felt about myself and cared less how others felt, I found it easier to look people in the eye.

Sure, it’s not always easy to convince yourself that you rock, but it’s also a very effective solution that isn’t obvious since it is a bit of lateral thinking. Still, growing an ego worked for me and some others I know, so it might work for you.

perspicacious's avatar

I don’t know how to help you other than to say just do. People will not feel drawn to a conversation with you without eye contact. You are aware of it, so do something about it. Practice talking to yourself in the mirror.

zophu's avatar

I had problems with this, and still do to an extent. But I find that when I am open to what someone thinks, about me specifically, I’m more able to maintain a natural eye-contact with them. Otherwise I just force it by trying to “tell them something” by looking into their eyes. Causes some awkwardness, but it’s better than looking down at the ground or staring off into the distance.

kenmc's avatar

All that it comes down to is forcing yourself to do it. Will power will always be capable of curing your fears. You just have to want it bad enough.

shpadoinkle_sue's avatar

Ask yourself what the person’s eye color is. Check and you’ve done it. I always feel that I make real eye contact when I do that. You can feel it.

nailpolishfanatic's avatar

Basically just start staring gat things, people’s butts, boobies or whatever. When you have gotten to that level, you can feel better when making eye contact.

Brian1946's avatar

Wear shades.

Maybe that’s how that U2 guy deals with his shyness and stage fright. :P

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

Eye contact is very confusing and painful for me (Aspergers Syndrome). I “fake” eye contact by looking at a persons eyebrows or forehead. At a distance of a few feet, people cannot tell that you are not looking at their eyes. I only did this when I had to, in dealing with superiors. In other situations I’d simply avoid eye contact, wear dark glasses, etc. Since I can’t read most nonverbal social cues anyway, faking eye contact just gives me a more “normal” appearance; that and simulating neutral body postures effectively disguises my social retardedness.

zen_'s avatar

@albert_e Thanks – that’s the one. He was Daloon – now he’s wunday.

mammal's avatar

eye contact is rude and aggressive, don’t bother.

ducky_dnl's avatar

lmfao @mammal makes eye contact with you

mammal's avatar

furthermore it’s supposedly an act of sincerity and measure of honesty, it’s funny how quickly people break eye contact when you toss them a curve ball.

vamtire's avatar

I also have a less serious form of your problem!! But I also have another problem which is that I don’t know what expression to make when I am around some award people!!

Evian's avatar

Try just checking their eyes to see if they are still listening every now and then. A quick glimpse every few sentnces is enough.

jerv's avatar

@stranger_in_a_strange_land I don’t do eye contact correctly either, and probably unnerve people by staring through them. Of course, having a drink in your hand helps avoid the situation; people understand that you don’t want to risk putting a beer bottle in your nostril and thus are not offended that you are not looking at them at all.

kenmc's avatar

Another bit I thought of: Only make eye contact at the end of a sentence or when you’re making a point. This works reasonably well and minimizes actual eye contact.

aprilsimnel's avatar

I was taught that it was disrespectful to look someone in the eye, especially if they were in authority. As I left my house to participate in the wider world, though, I had to learn the opposite. That wasn’t without mistakes, but I had to make those to learn. Just remember that you have as much right to take part in conversations and be heard, and that what you have to say is just as important as what anyone else has to say.

Why do you feel exposed? Do you think that you, as a person, are or would be unacceptable to others and somehow they have some magical ability to see parts of yourself that you can’t and will judge you harshly for them? I used to think that about others, too. Then I realized that other people were only human, just like me, and that the person who started me on this belief was trying to pull a Jedi Mind Trick for whatever warped reasons she had – and that she was full of it. :P

The vast majority of people will relate well to you and won’t judge you for being yourself. They’re mostly too concerned with how they’re coming off in interactions, so you really have even less to fear. Don’t put other people on a pedestal. In all honesty, only narcissists like the view from there, and even they would trade it for a moment’s ability to trust that someone liked them for who they actually were. Go ahead and look for as long as you can stand, then do it again, and again and again. Notice how people react when you look at them. They like it, usually, right? It’s OK. You’ll be OK. Good luck.

michaeljbrown's avatar

when i was younger i couldn’t make eye contact with anyone, i was too shy. i think that you have to, for example, dance in public, like in a disco.. go to somewhere that everyone looks at you, i dont know, just be yourself and get used to attention, than u get confident and u start to make eye contact with people when u talk. :)

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