Two Exercises to Improve Your Eye Contact Skills

Two Exercises to Improve Your Eye Contact Skills

Exercises for improving your eye contact

As I walked into my apartment building’s elevator, my mind was focused on writing an article — this article — about eye contact.   A new neighbor sprinted towards the elevator as the door closed.  I stuck my hand in front of the door sensor and she walked in.  We both looked at the wall.  Neither of us made eye contact with the other, not even when the neighbor said “Have a nice day” as she walked out.

Ironic, right?

THE CATCH-22 / PARADOX / FRUSTRATION OF EYE CONTACT

I’m going to take a wild guess and say that you don’t make nearly enough eye contact.  Why would I guess that?  Most people stink at making eye contact, even when they don’t have disorders that affect their social ability!

Beyond your specific diagnosis, there’s a reason why you tend not to make as much eye contact as you should:  Eye contact is enormously powerful.  It creates a connection with another person who otherwise would have no connection with you.  It raises your heart rate, accelerates your breathing and makes your palms sweaty.   Eye contact brings on so many changes so quickly that you just choose to avoid it.

And therein lies the catch-22 / paradox / frustration.  You need the power of eye contact to create a deep connection and yet you avoid it because it is so powerful.

(Friends with ASD tell me that eye contact can be confusing.  And friends with ADHD tell me that eye contact can be distracting.  Oy!)

If you’re willing to try to make better eye contact, let me suggest two exercises to get you started:

A GREAT AT-HOME EXERCISE TO IMPROVE YOUR EYE CONTACT

The first exercise only requires a printer:

  • Think of someone you find super attractive
  • Find a big head-shot of that person.  (Your best bet is to search Google Images for that person, and find the biggest picture of his or her head that you can find.)
  • Print out the head-shot and put it up on the wall.
  • Practice your Dynamic Answers as you look into the eyes of your taped-up hottie.

By practicing your Dynamic Answers with your taped-up hottie, you are improving both your eye contact ability and your speaking skills.  If you don’t have Dynamic Answers ready, then just practice talking to your taped-up hottie.  

One simple variation on that exercise is video chatting with people using Skype or Google+ Hangouts.  

Another variation is simply standing in front of a mirror and practicing your Dynamic Answers as you make eye contact with yourself.  You will know immediately when you break eye contact with your reflection and that will get you in the habit of maintaining better eye contact.
How did it work for you?  Let our Village know in the Comments, below.Have another at-home exercise that worked for you?  Post that in the Comments, too.

A GREAT “REAL TIME” EXERCISE TO IMPROVE YOUR EYE CONTACT

Talking to a taped-up hottie, a reflection of you or a Skype friend is good practice, but your ultimate goal is to make a genuine connection in-person.  Eye contact is an important part of that.

Try this:  Next time you’re having a conversation with a potential partner — or anyone! — ask yourself every minute or so what color is that person’s eyes. 

Just mentally asking yourself that question will make you look into his or her eyes.

If the only time you are looking into your potential partner’s eyes is to answer the question, you should do the at-home exercises to get more comfortable with eye contact. 

Stick with it…making eye contact is tough but worth it!

NOW LET’S TALK ABOUT PEOPLE CONTACT

Eye contact is powerful because it connects two people.  A recommendation powerful because it connections three people — you, me and the person to whom your recommendation is made.  Have I earned your recommendation?  Is this advice good enough to recommend?

If so, then please make those connections!  You have five social network buttons to get you started.  Pick a social network Facebook Twitter Google+ LinkedIn StumbleUpon.

QUICK REVIEW

  • Eye contact is powerful
  • For people with certain diagnoses, eye contact may just be too difficult
  • Practice making eye contact as you speak to a paper cutout of someone attractive, a friend on Skype or Google+ Hangouts, and your reflection in the mirror
  • Share your favorite eye contact exercise in the Comments
  • When you’re speaking to a real person, ask yourself every few moments what color are his or her eyes
  • How have the exercises worked for you?  Share those in the Comments, too.
QUICK REVIEW

 

  • Eye contact is powerful
  • For people with certain diagnoses, eye contact may just be too difficult
  • Practice making eye contact as you speak to a paper cutout of someone attractive, a friend on Skype or Google+ Hangouts, and your reflection in the mirror
  • Share your favorite eye contact exercise in the Comments
  • When you’re speaking to a real person, ask yourself every few moments what color are his or her eyes
  • How have the exercises worked for you?  Share those in the Comments, too.

 

Jeremy Hamburgh
Jeremy Hamburgh

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Comments

  1. Tony Langdon says:

    Eye contact is particularly difficult and overwhelming for many on the spectrum. I’ve found looking in the general direction of the face with frequent glances at the eyes works best for me, keeps the overwhelming effect to a manageable level, while still being able to use the eye – eye connection.

    • Jeremy Hamburgh says:

      I like the advice, Tony. Have you ever asked your conversation partners what they thought of your eye contact? I’d be curious to know whether it was effective from their perspective.

      Jeremy

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