Have you ever had a conversation with another person who – in the entire conversation – never looked you directly in the eyes or, if they did make eye contact, it was only for brief moments and most of the time they gazed somewhere else?
Eye contact is one of the major (and maybe even the most important) non-verbal cues for expressing confidence and the more the ability you have in making eye contact, the more you will show how confident you are and logically it’s therefore important for everyone to have decent eye contact skills to help make sure that your conversations are done the best way possible. If you can get yourself to make good, regular, eye contact – ideally without freaking out the person you’re talking to because you’re staring at them too much – you’ll find things generally go better and more smoothly for you.
Being shy is not a bad thing or a crime but you becoming confident in such a way that you can confidently look someone in the eyes means you have to start believing and trusting in youurself. The other person will twig that you have something to say, even if it’s on a subconscious level. Remember this doesn’t mean that you should continuously look into the eyes of the person you’re having a conversation with the entire time – that’s freaky (I did it on a self help course I attended and it’s just plain weird) but instead you should build up a gradual confidence to look in the other people eyes regularly enough for them to know you’re paying attention but not too prolonged.
- When you’re in a group conversation, do your best to make sure your eye contact is fairly evenly distributed amongst the group (hint: don’t just focus on the most attractive person or the one you want to impress most).
- When you’re speaking with a group conversation, use eye contact to make sure that people don’t feel left out or ignored by you. You’ll help involve them more fully in the conversation and could even build up other people’s confidence as well – just by glancing at them rather than staring at the floor or the ceiling.
- If you’re uncomfortable maling eye contact with other people in the conversation – especially your superiors or someone who regularly intimidates you – and you still want to show that your are confident, you have to work on improving your self esteem level. Mental rehearsals help and mentally positioning yourself as being someone who’s on the same level as the other people you’re talking to will help, Rather than constantly saying to yourself that you’re the underdog.
- One trick to learn is that instead of looking in other peoples eyes, you can focus on studying their eyes instead. For instance, you can study their eye size, colour or their eyebrows as this will help you in maintaining eye contact without just manically staring at them. In turn, it will help prevent you from becoming too nervous that you lose your eye contact completely.
- Make sure that you maintain eye contact regularly as this signfies confidence and a connection with the other person. Do your best to “pan” rather than sharply switch from one person to another. And don’t focus on that imaginary hole in the ground that you secretly hope will swallow you up! Make sure when you break eye contact that it looks as natural as possible. Interruptions in conversations happen but do your best not to aggravate them (or any awkward silences) by breaking eye contact at the wrong moment as well.
- Focus on what’s being said – repeating the conversation back to yourself (in your head, not out loud!) helps keep you on track. Too often, we don’t listen to what’s being said because we’re too worried about what we’re going to say next. That’s when the guilt clicks in and your eyes are the give-away that your mind has been on a different planet.
- Scary as it sounds, your eye contact and your eye expressions can reveal your thoughts and feelings and will show your confidence – or lack of it – very transparently.
- You can choose to break eye contacts when there’s a break in the conversation. Or you can use the break to reinforce the eye contact. The other person will know that there’s one of those awkward silences and may well be relieved that you’ve acknowledged it.
- Hypnotise yourself! Like most things we don’t do totally contact, eye contact reacts well to hypnosis and listening to a hypnosis track can be a good way to help train yourself to be better at this useful skill.