Does Eye Contact Un-nerve You?  Replace your Less Useful Beliefs here.

I was once asked this eye contact question:

“When I look into someone’s eyes, I feel the same way as I would if I were looking into the window of their house. I feel as if I might be intruding. This is obviously (no pun intended) not an accurate or useful belief. I’d like to replace it and I don’t have a better one to put there. If you’re comfortable with holding eye contact with people you don’t necessarily know intimately, what do you believe that makes you feel OK, or even good, about it?”

It’s clear to me that I have some different beliefs about eye contact than the above.

I think people are secretly (sometimes not so secretly) crying out for more “real” and genuine intimacy in their lives, and eye contact is one of the great ways people can get it.

It can be perceived as intruding if people feel like they’re getting the wrong kind of eye contact.

And I think it can be one of the greatest “unconscious communication” gifts you can give someone… to award them the perfect kind and amount of eye contact.

Great eye contact is about giving full attention, in balance.

So when I look into someone’s eyes, I engage in a balance-finding exercise… to calibrate the right combination of…

  • duration of eye contact to deepen intimacy/rapport… before looking away (most men divert their eyes by or before 3 seconds, most women require at least 7 seconds…)
  • frequency of glance-aways: If you don’t glance away enough, it’s creepy. If you glance away too often, you’re not connected or intimate.
  • duration of glance-aways: If your eyes are diverted too briefly (and often), you seem too easily distracted. If you divert attention too long, you’re perceived as disinterested.

When you combine eye contact with certain other things, it can deepen any effect. This applies to the effects you don’t want to cause, as well as many you DO want to cause. Consider these, for example. As you’re maintaining eye contact, try one or more of these together:

  • change your inner emotional state to one of greater nurturing, or greater contentment.
  • start smiling wider — a genuine smile — quickly, or slowly.
  • tilt your head slightly forward, along with a slight head tilt to the side, and either add a smile or not.

Stop staring, start gazing!

Men are particularly bad with eye contact sometimes.  Men can tend to stare — even when they don’t want to.  Women are generally more subtle with their eyes, because they tend to gaze, not stare.

What’s the difference?  Staring is “achieved” when you focus too long and too intensely at specific things.  Gazing is achieved by sweeping your visual attention gently over a variety of things, without stopping to stare.  We often train this at live courses, and its a bit hard to describe via text.  Until you can get to our courses, probably the best way to gain this skill is to ask female friends to show you the difference.

Learn to flare your eyelids!

There’s a really neat effect that can be achieved by flaring your eyelids for a half second. It feels a little like a gentler version of ‘bugging your eyes out’ a bit — but only for half a second. The effect is that your eyelids open just a hair wider, making your eyes look bigger, showing more of the whites of your eyes, and since you’re showing more of your eye’s surface, this usually allows your eye contact partner to enjoy momentary twinkles in your eye(s).

I suspect you’ll be pleased with the results!

Author: Jonathan Altfeld