6 ways to dramatically improve your eye contact skills

About Steven Aitchison

I am the creator of Change Your Thoughts (CYT) blog and love writing and speaking about personal development, it truly is my passion. There are over 500 articles on this site from myself and some great guest posters.
If you want to learn more about my products you can check out Steven Aitchison's Products or check out my books and Kindle books on Amazon

Eye contact: The most important communication tool

Is your eye contact aggressive, is it soft, is it inviting, do you love with your eyes? Eye contact is a very tricky art to master but vital to effective communication. How can you make it better?

Eye contact provides social information to the person you are listening to and talking to. Too much eye contact and you could be seen as aggressive, too little eye contact and you can be seen as having no interest in the person speaking. It is an often overlooked skill to have and an under utilised skill when communicating with people. You can see masters of eye contact in great sales persons, politicians, and good public speakers.

I realised the importance of eye contact when I was counseling people face to face. I noticed when I broke eye contact the person would stop speaking. When I maintained eye contact the person would continue talking knowing that I was interested in what they had to say.

Physiological signs of eye contact

CLICK HERE

Street traders know the importance of the eyes when using their selling skills to keep their potential buyers interested. When you are aroused or interested in an object your pupils will dilate and this is a big cue for salesmen all over the world.

Also when you are interested in someone sexually your pupils will dilate and you hold the person’s gaze a little longer than normal. When I was single I always knew when a girl was interested in me through her eyes, now that I am married if I get the same signs I discourage eye contact.

Every day conversation and eye contact

We will use eye contact every day of our lives so it makes sense to learn the best ways to use your eyes to your advantage.

Certain situations demand different uses of the eyes. For example if your are arguing it is seen as strong if you can hold your gaze. If you are deferring to someone it is better to lower your eyes, if you are loving someone it is good to stare into the pool of the eyes.

6 Ways to improve your eye contact skills

  1. Talking to a group – When talking to a group of people it is great to have direct contact with your listeners. Don’t make the mistake of maintaining eye contact with just one person as this will stop the other members of the group from listening. To get past this, focus on a different member of the group with every new sentence. This way you are talking to all of the group and keeping them all interested.
  2. Talking to an individual – It is great to maintain eye contact when talking to a person however it can become a bit creepy and uncomfortable if you stare intensely at them. To combat this, break eye contact every 5 seconds or so. When breaking the eye contact don’t look down as this might indicate the ending of your part of the conversation. Instead, look up or to the side as if your are remembering something. Try it just now: don’t move your head, and think about the first time you started school. You will notice your eyes might move up or to the side as you try to remember this. So when your listener sees this they will think you are trying to remember something and keep on listening to you.
  3. Listening to someone – When you are listening to someone it can be off putting for the talker if you stare at them too hard. The technique I use when I am counseling someone is to use what I call ‘The triangle’. This is when I look at one eye for about 5 seconds, look at the other eye for 5 seconds and then look at the mouth for 5 seconds and keep on rotating in this way. This technique coupled with other listening skills such as nodding, occasional agreement words such as ‘yes’, ‘Uh –huh’ ‘mm’ etc is a great way to keep the talker talking and to show them you are interested in what they are saying.
  4. Arguing – Arguing with someone is a skill in itself and if you want to compete in an argument holding the gaze shows strength. If you look away when arguing with someone you have all but lost the argument. Obviously this depends on who you are arguing with but in general it is better to hold the gaze whilst you are making your point and also when you are listening to the other person. We have all come across the person who is great at arguing and making you feel small, you will notice that everyone who is like this try to stare you out. Stare back, it will surprise them, piss them off and put them off what they are trying to say. Staying silent and staring at someone who is trying to rile you is also an effective way to win an argument without saying a word.
  5. Attracting someone – When you are trying to attract someone and show them you are interested you can talk and listen with your eyes. When a person you like is speaking use the whole face as your focal point. Look at their eyes, listen to what they are saying, smile in the appropriate places, raise your eyebrows in the appropriate places. If you feel you are staring at them move to their other features such as their lips, their cheeks, their nose and then back to their eyes. Smiling when listening to someone is a great way to show you are interested in them, obviously don’t smile when they have just told you their pet died last night. You have to listen with your ears as well as listening with your eyes (yes I did mean listening with your eyes, you listen to someone’s body language with your eyes).
  6. Loving someone – My wife and I often share a prolonged gaze into each others eyes and it is a very special thing to just stare without talking. My wife’s pupils will dilate and she can my pupils dilating. It creates a strong bond between us. To make your pupils dilate even more you can try this: as you are staring at your partner imagine yourself going inside their body and your two souls making love. You are trying to touch their very soul. This will release adrenalin and make your pupils dilate even more.

Other posts you might be interested in.

I could talk about this topic for ages as I think it is a very important skill to have. However here are some other bloggers and researchers who have studied eye contact.

How to improve your body language

How to handle or strike up conversation

Happiness tip: smile at a stranger

Are you looking at me? Eye gaze and the perception of others

How to attract and seduce single sexy women with your eyes

Integrating social and physical cues when judging attractiveness (pdf)

The eyes have it: The fundamentals of eye contact

Theory of non competitive stare

Defeat the stare down

Eye contact and blushing

Some Amazing Comments

comments

Comments

  1. Larry Horchner says:

    Hello, I am hoping that someone out there can help on this question but am losing faith.
    I am 57 years old and quite educated but have been unable to get an educated guess as to this phenomenon. Two times in my life I have had intense face to face impact with both a male and a female that looked directly into my pupils and then VERY VERY rapidly alternated from my left pupil to my right pupil and then back and forth at a rate of 200 alterations per minute. What does this mean and why would they do this? One was a male of extreme governmental training and the other was a nymphomaniac (no joke). would love to hear any input on others that have had this experience … thank you

  2. Excellent article. I am facing some of these issues as well.
    .
    Trisha recently posted..Trisha

  3. Jackson says:

    Love your stuff man, One of my biggest problems is that I feel really nervous when looking at someone in the eye. I don’t know why, but whenever I look at someone theres this weird feeling of tension. Do you have any tips to improve this?

    • u can look on his eyebrow………..he will feel that you are making an eye contact n u also feel comfortable……….hope u wll try this and if u suceed then mail me

  4. Garbage..eye contat is a sheople game..it is what you say not kiddie eye games that counts

  5. Charles Victoria says:

    Thank you for this article! I need more good eye contact

  6. I like the part where you call systematic staring triangles a “listening skill.” Who’s going to be listening and counting down the next face part to stare at simultaneously?

  7. Such a great post! I now know more about eye contact and the meanings. This will help a lot in high school!

  8. Thank you for this amazing info, this is really helpful.

    Greetings from South America!

  9. Thank you so much for the tips I feel I struggle with making eye contact with people and I feel like I make them feel uneasy at times. I would consider myself a nice person and I always have the best of intentions so it disheartens me when I feel I’m making someone feel uncomfortable. It is almost to the point to where I am about to try an get help for social anxiety because I want to be social but I feel like my struggle with this is holding me back from beig worry free so again, thank you so much!

  10. Oh my, eye contact.
    I’m fine with eye contact when talking to people; I usually manage just fine. It’s a little harder with people in authority and intimidating people, but still, not a big deal. However, I HATE eye contact when you’re looking around, sitting in class, walking down the street; eye contact without speaking is extremely awkward for me. I NEVER know where to look, and I feel as if I’m being watched and judged, and if I make eye contact with someone, I almost always look away awkwardly, hence creating awkward eye contact. I feel like I upset people when I do this, or when I avoid looking at them and it’s so bad. I just feel like I’ve lost the ability to sense what other people feel, and interpret body language and such because my own body language and that is so out of wack now. I think it’s possible that I have social anxiety. Can anybody help me out? I really want to get past it without counselling because I really can’t bear to tell my parents, I think it would break my mum’s heart as she’s suffered from anxiety/depression herself and would be so upset if I were to suffer from it too.

    • Shelly,
      I now it is 2 years past this post but have you overcome these fears yet? If so, how did you accomplish that?

      Bob

  11. No. 3 Works! I had a problem of not knowing where to look whilst listening to someone speak and I always felt a little uncomfortable, just enough to mess with my train of though. Now I have this rule to work to, I no longer feel uncomfortable and can respond with ease. Thanks, literally changed my life.

  12. Solid post! I will definitely try out your suggestions.

  13. Rohit Saxena says:

    Nice article..really useful.
    I appreciate the work. Thanks for such a nice post.

  14. DavidWong says:

    Nice, gonna try it out XD Thanks

  15. Excellent article, I have this problem big time, just cannot make eye contact for too many seconds I start to feel weird and my face almost feels like its twitching, and then I alwys feel like i have freaked the other person out because they will start to look around the room instead of at me, I have a tendancy as stated above to look at my computer screen when someone is talking and I dont think people like this, but I just feel really weird when i make eye contact for more then 5 seconds. I will certainly try to use some of these methods to help me in my everyday life, thanks.

  16. so greatttttttttt ..i like it so much..thanx

  17. Chris nyc says:

    I read your blog and agree with every single word you wrote. I tell my wife all the time about eye contact
    and the importance of it, but she never listens and I really irritates me. I will try to have her read your blog because it is a great blog that you wrote.

  18. Hi Steven,
    I am training to be a holistic therapist and I am working on an assignment about effective communication when dealing with clients and colleagues to maintain good practise and I found your blog very insightful.
    I was hoping it would be okay to quote from your blog and I wanted to know what your occupation title?

    Many Thanks

    P

  19. What a great info.. I hope you don’t mind if I posted it in my blog.

    Thanks.
    aboi recently posted..Tahun 2011

  20. yeap! I tried that sometime ago on girl that I liked and it just worked without even believing in such a power too much. Now I realized the power of eye contact.
    tnx for the article.

  21. Steven,

    This was so fascinating to read. I never knew there were so many elements to eye contacts. These days I found that some people try to multi-task while talking to you – looking at their computer or electronic device while “listening” to you. It’s easy to loose our sense of warm connectedness in the busy electronic age. People with this tendency could really benefit from reading this article.
    Sandra Lee recently posted..Sunday Reflection- Loving Awareness

  22. Helpful post, especially the part about the triangle. Thanks.

  23. Let me tell you his has really helped me!!…..i mean a lot!!!.A lot of people are not aware of the importance of eye contact when communicating, gestures with accompanying eye expressions.It is infact one of the main components of effective communication.By just looking at someones’s eyes you can judge his mood and feelings towards you.At first it was hard for me to keep eye contact.Reading this article has changed my perspectives and ways of looking at things.Thanks, you just made my day!!!

  24. Interesting post. Not keeping eye contact while listening is a sign of superiority, of not needing to show the other person that you are listening to them. Keeping eye contact while talking is a sign of inferiority, you need to make sure the other person is still interested in what you are saying. There has been research on this done comparing men against women and experts against non-experts. Non-experts deferred to the experts in a conversation (ie. they maintained eye contact more when both listening and speaking), and the experts did the opposite. Women deferred to men in a conversation, (unless the woman was the expert and the man the non-expert). That is, women maintained eye contact more than men did when listening (to show that they were listening) and when talking (to make sure that they were still being listened to). Men maintained less eye contact (than women with men) when listening to a woman speak, and when talking to a woman.

  25. hey.
    my name is John.
    i wanted to share a problem and wanted to know whether it is normal and it happens with all the boys of my age.?i am 18.
    from the last one year,i have been having difficulty in maintaining eye contact with my teachers at college.
    when i am attending their lectures and they look at me,i get nervous and dont know what to do and i feel strange..
    i am really tensed about this.
    help me out…

  26. I am new here in this site. But i will be visiting this site time and again. this article is so interesting. One of the most interesting analysis on network effect. Great job buddy.

  27. Great post on eye contact I didn’t realize that you could get so much information from the way someone looks at you.

  28. Excellent piece about the importance of eye contact. People say I have lovely eyes, in fact they are not particularly attractive but I always try to smile using them to put others at their ease or I may sometimes wink in a friendly way at a person who looks a little shy (men and women) to show I have noticed them and that they are important to me. I believe these nuances are very important and would like to help my son (who is very shy)I have explained how it makes others feel when you look at them and I will stop talking if he stops looking at me to show him the importance of using eye contact. any other tips?

  29. Please help, I cannot make eye contact. I get headaches, and I feel really weird, when i looke at someone. I also feel like they don’t like it when i make eye contact. People will look away from me and they also lick their lips, why?

  30. Please Help. I feel like when I make eye contact, I intimidate or confuse people. I get headaches and feel nervous when i do make eye contact. Its like i can’t look at people without feeling that i have made them feel weird. I think that they think i’m weird. This has been going on for some time and i don’t know what to do. When I talk to people they look away, won’t look at me, and then lick their lips, Why??

    • I DO THAT TOOO,,NERVEOUS,,,THINK I AM WEIRD,,,EVERTHING UNDER THE SUN,,,,,,,STILL WORKING ON IT AT FIFTY……OR PEOPLE WILL DO CRAZY JESTURES OR TALK ABOUT YOU. HAD A ROUGH DAY BECAUSE I OVER HEARD SOMETHING ABOUT ME NOT HAVING IT,,,,IT COMES NATURE TO SOME AND NOT WITH OTHERS,,,,,

  31. Never make eye contact with angry animals ….

  32. Thx!! you don’t know how much this article has helped me!! before i used to be some shy kid that doesn’t have any confidence, now; i’m the better me. Thx!!

  33. Eye contact turns me on, that’s why I avoid it.
    But this is a very very helpful post, thanks

  34. Very Interesting,
    I find it very useful for people who try to dominate over me.
    You truely use the SuperHighway of information technology for spreading your knowledge.
    Thanks

  35. Easy to read and understand, hard to do in theory. Try listening to the other person and giving them all your attention, I find this mor genuine reather than being worrying about how your eyes are working.

  36. Thanx A Lot

    This Really Helped Me Get Information For My AS Health And Social Communication Coursework.

  37. It is proved that our behaviour reflects part of our personality, among all our skills, the eye contact skills is one of the most important.

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    Angel

  38. It is proved that our behaviour reflects part of our personality, among all our skills, the eye contact skills is one of the most important.

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    Angel

  39. This article help us a lot to improve our eye contact skills, for example, if we want other people hire our services, we should have a good posture for convincing them.

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    Laura

  40. Too funny I found this searching contact lenses. Glad I found it. I’m going to try some of these… Thanks

  41. “If you look away when arguing with someone you have all but lost the argument.” – agree about that and about the rest too.
    Things you are talking about in this post may seem not important to many people. But they really are. Thanks for gathering them all in one article.

  42. sarah millma says:

    i really enjoyed reading ur articles, i am currently studying a degree in conselling and this really gave me some great points to work with.
    thankyou..
    As an everyday communicator,I feel that we dont relize how important it is to show ppl eyecontact. ppl can can the wrong message if eyecontact is not used in the right context.
    thankyou again.

  43. really it is great useful post , will try these points and post feedback ,hoping great success in this issue

  44. Really great topic. I have learned a lot from what is written here today. I highly recommend this the everyone

    Thanks

    Nicola Cairncross
    http://www.themoneygym.com

  45. thanks Steven this is a great post with lots of good info

  46. thanks to everyone for your comments on this post i really appreciate you taking the time to leave a comment here. I hope you have been using the eye contact skills to good effect. Let me know how you have got on with using this, it would fascinating to hear your stories.

    • Please Help. I feel like when I make eye contact, I intimidate or confuse people. I get headaches and feel nervous when i do make eye contact. Its like i can’t look at people without feeling that i have made them feel weird. I think that they think i’m weird. This has been going on for some time and i don’t know what to do. When I talk to people they look away, won’t look at me, and then lick their lips, Why??

  47. Ariane told me to come and check out your site and I am so glad that I took an extra moment and did! I absolutely LOVE the eye contact post. From the sex appeal to the strategies, it’s absolutely intriguing and I can’t wait to use it!

    • hello I like your website very much, it is very interesting to read about some problems that many people have.

      when I red some of these I started thinking about my problems from some other ways. and those blogs brought me some keys for my own problems.

      keep going in that way with some great answers.sharing your comments with public. :) :)

      thank you, now I can see myself from some other site of view. I am very grateful

  48. Great idea, I’m printing and will share information with my sales staff. By day, I sell commercial real estate (28 years) By night and only since January of 07 I blog and work on my new site grammology. This information is invaluable..

    Thanks for showing me this site. I’d like to make it a favorite on my site if that’s okay?

    Dorothy from grammology
    http://grammology.com

  49. Great post. I like your suggestions. I do need to improve my eye contact. Sometime I catch myself looking around or even looking down when talking to people. You could go further on the “attracting people” subject ;)

  50. These are great suggestions. The use of eye contact is a useful tool in communication indeed. We usually don’t recognize it when we are speaking, but people are more interested if we keep constant eye contact.

  51. Nice post.
    Taking to a group is a good practice indeed. It’s a good way of keeping eye contact to several people and get their attention.

  52. I have great contact lens skills. I can pop out my contact lens without using my hands.

  53. Good post, Steven. I’m surprised when people don’t make eye contact while talking with you. Of course, this line in the post made me laugh out loud:

    “obviously don’t smile when they have just told you their pet died last night.”

  54. A great post on eye contact!

    My! Even arguing has a strategy!

    Thanks!

Trackbacks

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  5. [...] Your blink rate can also help with your communication skills. Think about someone who looked at you intently and you possibly felt threatened by them. What you may have missed is the fact that they had stopped blinking. When someone stops blinking and stares at you when you are talking it’s a sign of aggression. However whenever you are talking to someone and they are blinking at a 3 -4 second interval it’s a sign of a relaxed and friendly listener. Check out people’s blink rates the next time you are talking. Check out this article for more info Dramatically improve your eye contact skills [...]

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  7. [...] Steven Aitchison offers great tips on improving your ability to make eye contact on his blog in his article 6 Ways to Dramatically Improve Your Eye Contact Skills. [...]

  8. [...] Your blink rate can also help with your communication skills. Think about someone who looked at you intently and you possibly felt threatened by them. What you may have missed is the fact that they had stopped blinking. When someone stops blinking and stares at you when you are talking it’s a sign of aggression. However whenever you are talking to someone and they are blinking at a 3 -4 second interval it’s a sign of a relaxed and friendly listener. Check out people’s blink rates the next time you are talking. Check out this article for more info Dramatically improve your eye contact skills [...]

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  10. [...] outwiki-how – How to look people in the eye – a technical guide to a natural  processChange your thoughts, change your life – some practical tips on improving your eye contact skills in lifeEnglish trainer – one [...]

  11. [...] Loving someone – My wife and I often share a prolonged gaze into each others eyes and it is a very special thing to just stare without talking. My wife’s pupils will dilate and she can my pupils dilating. It creates a strong bond between us. To make your pupils dilate even more you can try this: as you are staring at your partner imagine yourself going inside their body and your two souls making love. You are trying to touch their very soul. This will release adrenalin and make your pupils dilate even more. If you want to read more you can continue here. [...]

  12. [...] I routinely make eye contact during conversations? I speak less and listen more to grow as an individual. Listening to the ideas of others helps me exp…draw people to me with a sincere smile and a receptive attitude. People love to speak to me because [...]

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  14. [...] Your blink rate can also help with your communication skills. Think about someone who looked at you intently and you possibly felt threatened by them. What you may have missed is the fact that they had stopped blinking. When someone stops blinking and stares at you when you are talking it’s a sign of aggression. However whenever you are talking to someone and they are blinking at a 3 -4 second interval it’s a sign of a relaxed and friendly listener. Check out people’s blink rates the next time you are talking. Check out this article for more info Dramatically improve your eye contact skills [...]

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  17. [...] Your blink rate can also help with your communication skills. Think about someone who looked at you intently and you possibly felt threatened by them. What you may have missed is the fact that they had stopped blinking. When someone stops blinking and stares at you when you are talking it’s a sign of aggression. However whenever you are talking to someone and they are blinking at a 3 -4 second interval it’s a sign of a relaxed and friendly listener. Check out people’s blink rates the next time you are talking. Check out this article for more info Dramatically improve your eye contact skills [...]

  18. [...] Your blink rate can also help with your communication skills. Think about someone who looked at you intently and you possibly felt threatened by them. What you may have missed is the fact that they had stopped blinking. When someone stops blinking and stares at you when you are talking it’s a sign of aggression. However whenever you are talking to someone and they are blinking at a 3 -4 second interval it’s a sign of a relaxed and friendly listener. Check out people’s blink rates the next time you are talking. Check out this article for more info Dramatically improve your eye contact skills [...]

  19. [...] your throat, rubbing your eyes, crossing your arms, tapping your toes, scratching your nose. Eye contact, or lack thereof, gestures, crossed legs, open arms, and the scent we transmit are all forms of [...]

  20. [...] 6 Ways to Dramatically Improve Your Eye Contact Skills @ Change Your Thoughts [...]

  21. eye contact says:

    [...] skills Change your thoughtsAug 11, 2007 … 6 ways to dramatically imrpove your eye contact skills.http://www.stevenaitchison.co.uk/blog/2007/08/11/6-ways-to-dramatically-improve-your-eye-contact-ski…Read “RE: Eye Contact” at English Forum… experience of dealing with strangers. Making eye contact [...]

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