How To Stop Avoiding Eye Contact with People at Work So They Start Paying Attention To You

avoiding eye contact

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?

  • Submission
  • Disinterest
  • Irritation
  • Weakness
  • Disrespect
  • Deceit

8 Tips for Making Effective Eye Contact In Business and Social Settings

  1. As you enter every conversation, make eye contact your #1 mission. Before you even start talking, try to establish eye contact.
  2. Use the 50/70 rule. Maintain eye contact 50% of the time when speaking and 70% when listening.
  3. Look for 4–5 seconds only, then slowly divert your gaze.
  4. 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.
  5. Mimic the facial expressions of the person talking (i.e., showing concern or smiling).
  6. Make a gesture with your hands so your gaze is not so pronounced.
  7. Look near the eyes – you don’t have to look deep into someone’s eyes in order to let them know you are listening.
  8. 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

Building social capital is critical for strong relationships. ADHD can get in the way.

How to Coach Your Child – Kids need good role models. Skills like listening and communication are critical. This exclusive program for parents teaches how to coach your kids for life.

Rusty Social Skills Bundle – Everything you need to help students return to the classroom for the development of critical social skills.

Coaching Conversations Video Course – How to use the lessons in Why Will No One Play with Me? in everyday life using real people and real scenarios

From “Hi” to a Full Conversation – How to adapt conversation starters to initiate small talk.

Joining a group Infographic – Make joining a group less intimidating – and more fun!

Building a Conversation Infographic – Learn how to engage in reciprocal give-and-take

Steps for Joining a Group Video – Step by step details to comfortably and successfully join a group

How to Read the Room as an Adult – Managing perceptions and engaging successfully

Why Will No One Play with Me? 

How to SEL – HOW TO help children build social skills

How to Help the Socially Awkward Kid

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Shopping Cart
X