The ability to make eye contact in a comfortable manner is one of the most important parts of nonverbal communication – in regards to business and personal relationships, it can also be one of the hardest to master.
The Role of Eye Contact in Effective Communication
Most of us either make too much eye contact which comes off as “stalker stare” or not enough, which comes off as nervousness and dishonesty.
It might seem as if being comfortable and confident – neither extroverted nor introverted – would be the key to achieving the perfect balance. achieving just the right amount of eye contact can be so challenging – with extroverts making too much eye contact and introverts not making enough, but that is not always the case.
Personality Types and Eye Contact
But, achieving just the right amount of eye contact can be so challenging because, for some people, nervousness in interpersonal relationships shows whether intended or not. extroverts often making too much eye contact and introverts generally not making enough, but that is not always the case.
Nervousness can impact both extroverts and introverts – with extroverts often making too much eye contact and introverts generally not making enough, but that is not always the case.
My Own Experience Improving Eye Contact
Using myself as an example, in the past, I tended to be extremely introverted. If talking with one or two people I was fine, but in a social setting, I was the one enjoying listening to others talk. Rarely would I ever press to shift the focus to myself, and when I did try to speak, my nervousness left my eyes darting around, then, my darting eyes would shift over to stalker stare, affixed on the friendliest looking person in the group.
With practice, I was able to improve my ability to make eye contact, and I want you to know that if I can do that, so can you. So here are a few tips that can help you improve your ability to make effective eye contact – some are from my experience and others are from the sources linked.
Tips for Improving Eye Contact
- Practice in front of a mirror. If you can’t look your reflection in the eye and talk to yourself, you probably also can’t look anyone else in the eye long enough to have a conversation.
- Record yourself. Make a recording of yourself reading a short speech or talking about something that interests you.
- This gives you a great way to analyze how the way you make eye contact because you can see what works and practice recording over and over until your eye contact looks natural in the recording.
- Match your partner’s eye contact style. According to the website, Improve Your Social Skills, a good way to achieve just the right balance in making eye contact is to make eye contact when the person you are speaking to looks at you and look away when they do.
- (I love this advice, though I am picturing two “stalker starers” making way too much eye contact or two people who struggle to make eye contact not looking at each other at all.)
- Mimic a good conversationalist. Study how much someone you admire as a conversationalist makes eye contact, then practice making about the same style and length of eye contact they do.
- Boost your self-esteem. While a damaged self-esteem is not the only thing that can make your ability to make eye contact go wrong, boosting your confidence and self-esteem can only help when you want to improve it.
- Set yourself up for small successes by planning and doing things you know you are good at, and write some simple positive affirmations about your good traits.
- Write down things that make you feel gratitude. Just like becoming more confident, experiencing gratitude can only help as you work to improve the way you communicate.
- Identify with people you talk to. Look for things you find positive or admirable in a person you don’t especially like but have to deal with anyway.
- This one is hard, but even the biggest jerk around will typically have at least one or two positive traits you can focus on, so you can relax and make proper eye contact when they talk to you.
- Finding something good and human in someone who tends to make you feel intimidated makes it easier to adjust your gaze to an appropriate length.
- Count the seconds. If you feel as if maybe you are making too much eye contact, count the seconds. If you go over three or four seconds when talking to someone other than a romantic interest – a mutual romantic interest – then look away from a moment – or at least blink.
Eye contact can be a tricky part of effective communication, but it is possible to practice improve at this form of non-verbal communication, and making the effort can be important as you work to rewrite your life story.