The amount of eye contact we maintain during conversations is learned in childhood. A lack of eye contact is often interpreted as dishonesty or a lack of confidence. Like any other habit we wish to develop, change is challenging and requires a little effort. Even if you routinely stare at your feet while dealing others, you can develop a better habit of maintaining eye contact during conversation.
1. Practice your eye contact while listening to others.
- If looking someone in the eye while you are speaking is too difficult at this time, look while they are speaking instead.
- There is a fine line between looking too much and not enough.
- Look them in the eye for few seconds, and then look at their mouth. After a few more seconds, shift your focus and attention on their other eye.
2. Practice with strangers.
- Walk through your local mall or other crowded location. As you pass by others, look them in the eye and smile. When that becomes easier, say, “Hi” while maintaining good eye contact.
- Ask a stranger for directions.
- Ask a store clerk a question. Look the cashier in the eye while you are paying.
- Take advantage of every opportunity to practice your eye contact skills. Have a chat with your neighbor. Have good eye contact with the other patrons while you are out having dinner or drinks. People are everywhere.
- Imagine that everyone was put on earth to help you with your eye contact.
3. Have a staring contest with a friend.
- If you can stare someone in the eye for 60 seconds straight, you will have an easier time maintaining normal eye contact during social interactions.
- Avoid just staring silently at each other. Carry on a conversation while you are at it.
- Try this same activity, but with a child. Not only will you enhance your eye contact, but you will also get a good laugh out of the process.
4. Study the eye contact of someone with great social skills.
- Everyone knows someone that can comfortably talk to anyone, anywhere.
- Notice how they use their eyes.
- Where do they look?
- How long does it take before their eyes move?
- Where do they look after breaking eye contact?
5. Slowly increase the amount of eye contact you use.
- Add a few additional seconds of eye contact during your conversations.
- It may take some time to reach a normal threshold, but the world is not going anywhere in the meantime.
- Take your time and continue making improvements.
- The first few days will be the toughest. Your progress will soar after that. Just keep going.
6. Look near the eyes, but not into the eyes.
- This is difficult to do if you are too close together.
- At normal conversation distances, the other person cannot tell if you are looking at their eye, their nose, or their forehead.
- Pick a spot between the eyes, but just above or below the eyes.
- This can be much easier than maintaining true eye contact.
7. Practice by yourself. Use a mirror.
- Have a conversation with yourself in the mirror.
- Maintain good eye contact with yourself.
- What will be the topic of your conversation? Perhaps you can discuss how good looking the face in the mirror is.
Eye contact is a very important part of non-verbal communication. The proper amount of eye contact shows that you are socially astute and confident. You will also be considered more capable and trustworthy. A little effort can enhance your ability to communicate with others. And you will be taken more seriously. Just look them right in the eye.
“Eye contact is way more intimate
than words will ever be.”