Why Do I Avoid Eye Contact with Others?
I've always herd the saying that "the eyes are the windows to a person’s soul".
Is that true? How much can you really learn from someone by staring deep into their eyes.
The saying may have lots of truth to it. But non-the-less, sometimes holding eye contact with some people can be insanely uncomfortable.
You aren’t alone in that discomfort.
Maintaining eye contact is a challenge for most people, with researchers suggesting that we all have varying levels of comfort when it comes to making and holding eye contact.
Top 3 Most Common Reasons Why People Avoid Eye Contact.
1. Avoiding Human Interaction
Eye contact is a rich source of social information.
Someone can use your gaze to predict your behavior and respond accordingly.
Understanding gaze direction is particularly useful in understanding where someone has focused their attention.
For this reason, we have evolved to break eye contact to remove ourselves from a social encounter intentionally.
As an example, I'm sure you've avoided gazing at someone coming your way in order to completely avoid them opening up a conversation with you.
All of us do this sometimes, hoping that the other party picks up on our 'non-verbal' lines of communication.
In the same way , you can notice someones precise level of engagement in a conversation by their level of eye contact when you're talking.
2. Introversion vs. Extroversion
Introverts don’t make eye contact as much as extroverts.
It doesn’t mean that being introverted means always being awkward or fearful, though.
I'm introverted and I just don’t see the need or want to partake in rituals and social norms as much as extroverts do.
Extroverts tend to think faster when talking and get energized by group interactions.
Introverts tend to think deeper, think before talking, and can only recharge and energize when alone.
These conflicting personalities reflect during social interactions.
For example, extroverts typically make good eye contact while they are talking. They tend to be in their “sweet spots” when conversing, so it’s natural to focus their gaze and attention on the other person.
On the other hand, introverts break eye contact more often when talking.
It’s not a personality flaw, just that they make eye contact only when they are comfortable (when they are the ones listening). Listening is an introverts “sweet spot.”
Introverts often avoid gazes in public places, and during conversations they want to get out of but don't want to be rude.
Social interactions have made humans adapt to looking into one another’s eyes, follow gazes, and quickly pick up on each other’s emotional signals.
Whether extroverted or introverted, confident people have never found maintaining gazes an issue.
They always hold their eye contact, whether during conversations or just walking down the hallway.
But the same can be challenging for anyone with low self-confidence.
Why Low Self-Confidence Stops You From Making Eye Contact
Some people frequently avoid eye contact due to simple insecurities.
You might avert a gaze because you feel less, insecure, or in pain emotionally about yourself and don’t want people to see you in that state.
It could be due to physical appearance, an emotional state, or a financial situation.
Also, those who feel they are of lower status are often the first to break their gazes. Perhaps, they don’t believe they can measure up to the other person’s level.
Wanting to Hide
We hesitate to look into someone’s eyes whenever we are being purposely deceitful and worried that our eyes will 'sell us out'.
If you suspect someone is lying to you, and they wont make eye contact, how do yo feel about them?
Eye contact is a non-verbal que that gives outsiders a peek into your sub-conscious mindset.
Often people will tell you to look into their eyes when telling them something in an effort to get a better read on your intensions.
However, there are times when you avoid making eye contact, not because you are disguising a lie. Instead, you may just not feel like revealing your true emotions to others.
Anger, fear, rejection, surprise, and shame are the emotions we often want to keep from others. But, unfortunately, they register to others most through our eyes.
4. Boobs VS. Eye Contact
10 Simple Tips For Making Eye Contact Easier
1. Prep Your Opening Conversation Beforehand
Have an idea of what you’ll say before breaking into a conversation.
Especially if you are the introverted type. It’s essential, even if it’s just a pre-planned greeting.
2. Lock Eyes With The Person Right Away
Another trick is to establish eye contact with the other person right away before you begin talking.
Finding the most appropriate words to say becomes much more challenging if you start speaking before looking into their eyes.
Don’t stare too deeply, though. Only long enough to register the color of the other person’s eyes before shifting your gaze.
3. Look For Five to Ten Seconds
The most effective gaze should be curious, appropriate, and balanced.
Maintaining balance when making eye contact is vital, as overdoing it often appears aggressive.
Also, it can register as a stare, which can be quite uncomfortable for the other party. You don’t want to appear creepy by holding too much eye contact.
Only look for 5-10 seconds, then avert for a second or two to gather your thoughts or think about their words before re-establishing eye contact.
4. Break the Eye Contact Periodically
Instead of gazing into the eye continuously, allow your sight to wander every once in a while.
Of course, taking a break from direct eye contact just seems natural at times. However, do so in a way that shows the other party that you are still attentive, just reflecting on their words.
Don’t do it too much as it might signal that you have grown bored with the conversation.Better still, you can use non-verbal cues like using nodding to break a gaze.
Breaking your gazes with gestures after getting uncomfortable makes it appear more natural than looking away altogether.
5. Look Away Slowly
When breaking the gaze, do it slowly.
Looking away too quickly as if darting your eyes sends signals that you are nervous or shy and make the encounter awkward.
Don’t look away completely, though—just re-avert your gaze to another spot on the person’s face.
6. Break Eye Contact to the Side
Looking down at the table or the floor signals guilt, insecurities, submission, disagreement, and even shame.
Also, breaking eye contact by looking up can display boredom or dominance, something you should avoid.
If you can’t hold the gaze, break and look sideways. A brief side-gaze appears neutral and avoids sending negative vibes.
7. Apply the 50/70 Rule
Social cues and etiquette dictate that you should look somebody in the eyes for about 50%, half the time you speak to them.
Make it 70% of the time if you are the one listening.
8. Allow the Eyes to Go Out of Focus a Little
Reduce your gaze’s intensity by allowing your eyes to go out of focus a little when you start feeling uncomfortable. It will help relax and soften your gaze.
Do so while still maintaining eye contact, though.
9. Look Near The Eyes
Looking directly at the eyes can be stressful, so find a spot around the eyes to gaze at. You can also look at the eyelashes, mouth, nose, or a mole at the chin.
Also, looking away or gazing down shows a lack of confidence.
You can draw an imaginary inverted triangle connecting various spots on the person’s face. Then rotate which point of the inverted triangle to look at after every five seconds.
Admittedly, it needs a little practice before you confidently maintain eye contact with anyone you speak to.
You need to practice these tips during conversations to strengthen your eye contact skills and encourage improvements.
Practicing in the mirror can help too.
You appear more confident, perhaps more trustworthy, and not look like you have something to hide if you can look someone in the eyes.
But we struggle with this sometimes, especially since polishing the “normal” amount of eye contact to use during social interactions requires a bit of effort.
Start practicing and paying more attention and you’ll discover just how much you could make others feel with just a little more eye contact.
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