How to Improve Your Eye Contact Skills

Published: 27th July 2009
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Why is making eye contact during conversation or during small talk so important?



It has often been said that the eyes are the windows to the soul. When we make look into the eyes of another person, we often feel that we can truly see who they are, and the other person can truly see who we are. For most of us, making eye contact with another person provides a feeling of intimacy and openness. It is hard to lie to another person when we are looking directly into their eyes. Very few of us can look into another person's eyes and lie to them.



Most people want to make a lot of eye contact with another person when they are talking with them. Making some eye contact during a conversation makes us feel that we are connecting on a deeper level.

When someone doesn't want to look us in the eyes during a conversation, we may end up feeling that they don't like us, or we may think that they are untrustworthy and have something to hide.



Most socially confident people find it easy to look into the eyes of another person while talking to them.



People who are very shy often have a hard time making eye contact when they are making conversation with others. This inability to make eye contact with others is one of the major reasons why shy people find it difficult to form friendships with other people.



When people are talking with someone who is too shy to look at them, they feel shut out. They don't feel welcomed. Shy people who won't look at the other person's eyes or face during a conversation can make the other person feel unwanted. The shy person may give the impression that he doesn't like the other person and that he can't wait for the conversation to be over.



Although most of us like to have some eye contact with those we are talking to, we don't want too much. Sometimes, too much eye contact can be intimidating. A person who is trying to exert their power over us may stare very intently into our eyes from a very close range. This can make us feel uncomfortable, even if we have nothing to hide. If we are trying to hide any secrets, it can be difficult to do so when someone is staring at us so intently.



It is important to know that not every person and not every culture likes to make a lot of eye contact during conversation, especially with people who are strangers. For example, most North Americans like to have eye contact with a person while they are talking with them. But many African Americans and Native Americans don't like to look directly into someone's eyes while they are talking to them. It's not part of their culture. People from these cultural backgrounds may feel uncomfortable if someone tries to look at their eyes while they make conversation with them.



In many other parts of the world, there are different, unspoken rules about how much eye contact is enough, and how much is too much. If you are unsure about how much eye contact to make during a conversation, or while making small talk, why not take a cue from the person you are talking with. Make about as much eye contact with the other person as they are making with you.



Balance your periods of looking at someone's eyes with a few moments of glancing away, but don't act as if you would rather look anywhere instead of at your conversation partner. Soften your gaze by staring generally at the center of their face, instead of looking intensely into their eyes. Make yourself appear more warm and inviting by showing some genuine smiles and facial gestures that mirror the topic of your conversation.



If you want to improve your social skills and increase your chances for social success, practice this important skill of looking at people while you are making conversation with them.



This article was written by Royane Real, author of the special report "Your Guide to Making Friendly Conversation" Download it today at http://www.lulu.com/real

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