How To Make Eye Contact Without Looking Weird
Do you ever have trouble looking people in the eyes? You’re talking to someone, and you don’t know where to look. You seem fine at first then you have this sudden urge to turn away and look anywhere but at their eyes.
For some reason, you get nervous and feel weird making eye contact with people, as if you’re looking into the other person’s soul. And you worry that if the other person can see your eyes, they will find out how uncomfortable you are and realize that you are a loser.
I know that it sucks. Have you ever wondered why you feel this way? Did you know that by simply controlling what you look at you can make your social life come alive? Read this article to solve the puzzle.
It's Not About the Words
Most of how people communicate isn’t verbal. That’s where the old saying came from: “It’s not what you say, but how you say it.”
But it isn’t even really about how you say something, but what you’re doing while you’re saying it. One study at UCLA indicated that up to 93 percent of communication effectiveness is determined by nonverbal cues. Body language, voice tonality and, yes, eye contact.
Of all of these, arguably the most important is eye contact. Why? Because we form connections with people through eye contact.
If you want to have real friendships and relationships with other people, and not just shallow small-talk, then you will have to start looking them in the eyes. That’s the way humans work.
Are you Human? Then you need to make eye contact. Probably lots more than you do right now. However, you also don’t want to creep the other person out.
How Much Eye Contact Is Normal?
Eye contact is like salt on french fries. Everyone has a slightly different amount they like to have, and it depends on the situation. Too little and the fries are just plain boring. Nobody wants them, because there’s no flavor. Are your conversations just plain boring because of a lack of eye contact?
But there’s a dark side as well. Too much and the fries are too salty. They repel people away, and the restaurant loses any repeat customers it may have had. If you give too much eye contact, people will think you’re creepy and won’t want to be around you after their first taste.
Excuse the cheesy analogy, but here’s the quick and fast rules:
- When talking, make eye contact 1/3 of the time.
- When listening, make eye contact 2/3 of the time.
- For everyday conversation, make eye contact in spurts of 3-4 seconds. (6-8 seconds if you are talking to someone of the opposite sex that you like.)
Okay, that’s all the facts you really need to know. But I know that, for someone like you, it’s not that easy.
So How Do You Actually Do It?
There’s a scientific word for how to do it. Not that you need to know it, but it’s called prograssive desensitization. What does that mean?
Imagine a large staircase. You are at the top, and everyone who has no problem making eye contact is at the bottom. You want to get to the bottom. How do you get there?
- Jump straight down from the top of the staircase to the bottom?
- Take the steps down, one at a time?
The logical way to get down is to take the steps one at a time. It’s the same when you start trying to make eye contact with people.
At first you won’t be able to even look at their eyes. That’s okay, look at their lower forehead or upper nose or in the middle of their eyes. They won’t be able to tell the difference.
Make a conscious effort to do this, and slowly you’ll be able to look at their nose for longer and longer periods of time. Then you start looking at one of their eyes, and slowly get used to that.
Practice, It Gets Easier
Yes, at first it will be hard, and you will have to TRY to look people in the eye, but you will slowly get better at it as long as you keep pushing your comfort zone.
Sooner than you can imagine, you won’t have to think about keeping eye contact, because it will become a habit to do it. It will be natural, and once you stop thinking about it you really get better at it.
Next time you’re talking to someone, or walking past a stranger, take the first step and start desensitizing yourself. Look at their forehead for 3-4 seconds as you talk to them, then look away. Try it again, and again, and again. More and more often. For longer and longer periods of time.
It’s the only way to get rid of this problem.
Yours in Social Success,
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