Bret's second part to the Eye Contact series was pretty good, but I wanted to discuss men and eye contact.
So, to start off, I know I'm not the best at eye contact. I'm not very good at starting it- I usually end up feeling nervous and look away quickly. I guess this stems from an intimidation factor/vibe/thing I get from the other person. Anyone else feel this way? How do you guys handle eye contact? Does anyone have any tips or tricks Brett didn't cover?
I personally feel like I'm staring at people too much. I read somewhere once if you have problems maintaining eye contact then you can focus on looking at one of the person's eyes.
I do this and it really helps- it means your face is facing the person your talking to and you are looking into the eye of the other person yet it deminishes that aggressive factor.
I quite agree. Occaisional eye contact broken with a nod or smile etc. has always worked for me. Boring in on someone like a cyborg doesn't inspire much ease or a basis for commonality. I in fact take it as a definite sign that the guy has some sort of problem which I may not be able to define at the moment but is often some sort of power trip. Some of the biggest jackasses I have known have been characterized by the "stare down".
Pick an ear and look at it it gives the impression that your lookin'em in the eye and they'll never know.
I'm sure eye contact is as important as brett says, but its a lost cause for me. This is partially because I'm fairly hard of hearing and usually I'm lip reading when I'm speaking to someone, whether or not the situation (read: background noise) necessitates it, out of habit.
The other reason being that if I notice oddities in my eye contact, or think about it, I wind up either staring at someone without blinking like an utter psychopath, or I spend so much time thinking and trying to time it properly that I completely miss what they're saying.
I think its a "you have it or you don't" thing...
When I was in my 20's and 30's I could not do eye contact. It was too intimidating.
After my entry weekend into ManKind Project (see the New Warriors AoM group for more on that), I could. I felt like a man, and worth inhabiting my own skin.
My point is that it's not a technique; it's an attitude, internal, and for me it took a sudden break from a lifetime of feeling intimidated. When you feel confident, eye contact will be easy. (I speak to OP; other posters apparently have different issues.)
"I'm afraid of people. Awful bother, when you consider how many of them there are about." -- Getting It Right. Quote from memory.
In my line of work eye contact is essential. People need to know you are listening, interested, and not intimidated. Try to make sure you are looking a man in the ey when he speaks to you. It's okay to look away from time to time. But not focusing or avoiding a man (or woman's eye) displays a level of disinterest or sometimes fear that can be avoided.
I usually make eye contact off and on during a conversation.
I never make eye contact. I just stare intently over the other person's shoulder for the entire conversation. Sometimes cocking my head to make certain they know Ï'm stairing over their shoulder and not looking at their ear.
In my experience a great benefit of eye contact comes from being able to read a persons reaction and respond appropriately. Faking eye contact may help a little, but you will be cheating yourself in the long run.
To avoid the stare down i make sure i am being expressive (e.g. showing interest, doubt confusion) this allows the other person to read your face, and not just focus on the eye contact.
Over time it becomes more natural, the important thing is to make the effort.