Problems with eye-contact.

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I’ve noticed that when I’m talking to someone, I avoid eye contact.

Any suggestions on how I can overcome this problem? I know it stems from early childhood trauma – but I don’t want it to define me for the rest of my life.

Category: asked November 21, 2013

7 Answers

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accepted
Hi there! I had the same problem. Do you have any other personality traits that go along with this? Is there any reason you can think of as to why you'd be reluctant to look people in the eye? In animals, it's a sign of confidence and standing your ground. To humans specifically, we use it as a sign of respect in some societies and a sign of power/seniority in others.

Practice in small amounts. A little longer each time. Realize that we don't maintain eye contact the whole conversation, we look at other things and look away (otherwise we are considered threatening or... there's also a romantic implication, if with a special someone). When you walk around, practice keeping your head up. Try making eye contact with those you know or are in a friendly setting with, supply a smile and a greeting. The more positive experiences you have with it, the easier it'll get. Little by little!
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I used to have a problem making eye contact. it still can be difficult, but I kind of just dare myself to hold the other person's gaze as long as I can (without being creepy of course). I turn it into a game basically. And I just try to be aware of it because sometimes I forget that I'm supposed to make eye contact while talking and not be looking down or away. So I would say to try and remind yourself to do it but don't get so caught up thinking about it that you're not even listening to what the other person is saying. I think as you get used to it, it will become more natural.
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I know that not all people who have difficulties with eye contact are autistic, but wrongplanet.com, a site for people on the spectrum, has a lot of discussions on eye contact, and maybe even an article or two, so it might be of use to you.
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I'm very shy when I'm in a social setting, I tend sit to one side and not engage unless someone speaks to me directly... and even then my answers are often brief and lack substance, even though I might actually have something to say. I guess its a trust issue. My opinions as a child were never important, and it was safer for me to blend in with the back ground than it was to speak up. I also feel that my views of the world and understanding of things are so drastically different than those around me - and it takes me a long time to feel comfortable voicing my thoughts on any matter. I tend to just listen... and then process what I hear at a later date. I'm getting better with it - but I still struggle.
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The best thing you can do is to look at the spot between their eyebrows. They will think you're giving them good eye contact, and eventually you'll start to get used to looking directly at someone. So you can gradually start shifting your gaze more to their eyes, as you get more accustomed to it.
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V
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I have the same problem. It is difficult but think of it as a bad habit that you have developed and one that you can break through practice. Any time we try to change our behaviour it is difficult & requires concious effort but after a while it becomes automatic. Remember not to overdo it, people don't keep constant eye contact, they keep it for a few seconds then look away, then look back etc.
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I actually forgot that I used to struggle with this as well....I think I just practiced a little bit at a time until I got used to it and now I think really think about it.