What Does Eye Contact Convey?
A person can communicate with their eyes and never say a word. Eye contact can convey a number of emotions, including anger, empathy, attentiveness, interest, self-confidence and attraction. It helps us get an idea of how the other person is feeling or thinking. Avoiding eye contact with someone can also convey a number of emotions, such as feeling awkward or uncomfortable.
Eye Contact: How to Build This Vital Social Skill
Eyes are a mode of communication. Eye contact is a life skill that has a vital role during conversation. It is important for youth and adults to practice eye contact because it is tied to so many other life skills. Eye contact is similar to a conversation; it goes back and forth when the individuals are engaged. Eye contact invites cooperation and increased interaction from others.
The Importance of Eye Contact:
• Starts and ends communication
• Associated with credibility and dominance
• Portrays status and accomplishment
Why Are Some People Avoiding Eye Contact?
Using appropriate eye contact can be difficult. Generally speaking, people with lower self-esteem, who are nervous or uncomfortable and have poor social skills may avoid eye contact. If you feel insecure, you don’t want people to take a closer look at you.
Other reasons for frequently avoiding eye contact include those who suffer from social anxiety disorders, Autism, or Asperger Syndrome.
What if You Have a Tendency to Avoid Eye Contact?
Don’t worry if eye contact is something you struggle with. Who hasn’t experienced odd eye contact? In contrast, who hasn’t experienced really great eye contact? Think of those moments, and try to learn from them. Take a mental note of what you liked and didn’t like.
When to Make Eye Contact
In business, it is particularly important that you make eye contact when you are introduced to someone, and when they are speaking to you.
When NOT To Make Eye Contact
- When someone seems unable or unwilling to meet your gaze, don’t push it. A soft gaze rather than a stare may be in order.
- When trying to block someone’s view or position yourself so that they have to look at you. It is their prerogative to not look at you if they do not want to.
- In confrontational or hostile interactions.
- When you are feeling uncomfortable or stressed.
Ineffective Eye Contact
Effective eye contact never involves staring at someone or having a fixed gaze. A frozen stance and tense face seem more like staring than contact. Looking into someone else’s eyes for more than a few seconds before smiling or otherwise changing your facial expression will almost certainly make the other person uncomfortable.
What Can Avoiding Eye Contact Indicate?
8 Tips for Making Effective Eye Contact In Business and Social Settings
- As you enter every conversation, make eye contact your #1 mission. Before you even start talking, try to establish eye contact.
- Use the 50/70 rule. Maintain eye contact 50% of the time when speaking and 70% when listening.
- Look for 4–5 seconds only, then slowly divert your gaze.
- Blink, nod and shift your head normally from time to time. Blinking fast and frequently can be associated with feeling nervous or uncomfortable; be sure to gauge your blink rate and watch how the person you are looking at is responding.
- Mimic the facial expressions of the person talking (i.e., showing concern or smiling).
- Make a gesture with your hands so your gaze is not so pronounced.
- Look near the eyes – you don’t have to look deep into someone’s eyes in order to let them know you are listening.
- Move your eyes slowly – don’t bounce your eyes around like a ping-pong machine. Move slowly and deliberately.
The balance between too little eye contact and too much is delicate.
While eye contact is important, it can be easy to get caught up in a story or the next joke. Listening intently is attractive, but staring can create a feeling of uneasiness for both the person talking and the person listening. It’s hard to find that balance of having enough eye contact, but that is where practice comes in.
Social Skills in Action
More actionable advice, exercises and videos can be found in the Store
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