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How To Make Engaging Eye Contact For A Great First Impression

How To Make Engaging Eye Contact For A Great First Impression

We look at people every single day, but we don’t always realize how important eye contact really is. We don’t realize all that can be gathered about a person by just engaging in eye contact. Unfortunately for shy people, they are at a disadvantage because they usually have difficulty holding eye contact.

For example, when you are in the middle of a job interview or you are on a date, you want to keep your focus on the person you are trying to impress. I’m sure that you’ve heard before that first impressions are everything. Although I do not agree with that statement entirely, I do think it definitely holds some truth. Imagine being on a date with someone, you’re trying to have a conversation with them, and they are looking at everything going on around them instead of paying attention to you. You’d feel pretty ignored, right? You’d feel as if the person you’re talking to is totally disinterested in what you have to say. It’s an awful feeling, even if they aren’t doing it intentionally.

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I’m talking about practicing engaging eye contact well enough so that you appear to be totally engaged, even if you aren’t. It all boils down to respect, appreciation, understanding and interest in what the other person is saying. If you’re one of those shy people who really struggles with keeping eye contact, or you’re someone who just wants some tips and techniques, we’ll teach you how to make eye contact.

4 clever tricks to make eye contact

1. Imaginary Inverted Triangle

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Portrait of handsome businessman looking at camera

    Some people find it very awkward to stare into someone else’s eyes, so here’s a little trick to help with that. Draw an imaginary triangle on the person’s face around their mouth and eyes. While holding a conversation with someone, change your gaze to another point on the triangle. This will give off the impression that you’re interested in the conversation. Sounds a little silly but it works! Give it try.

    2. Practice without leaving your couch

    Probably the easiest way for anyone to do anything, ever. I mean, you don’t even need to leave your couch. This works really well for those who are shy and aren’t ready to practice on real people just yet. I always like to recommend that taking notice of a person’s eye color is a good place to start. Especially since down the road you want to be able to have reached a point where you can look someone in the eyes and not feel uncomfortable and awkward.

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    When you’re watching a TV show or a movie, every time a new character comes on the screen up close take notice of the color of their eyes, hair, etc. Eventually when you’ve felt like you’ve had enough practice, noticing these things on real people and making eye contact with them will come naturally.

    3. Take notice of their other features

    I’ll be honest, it can be extremely intimidating when looking into a person’s eyes, especially if they’re someone of authority. I have always struggled with eye contact myself. It makes me nervous. I have found that it helps to pay close attention to their features. I take notice of freckles on their face, the color of their hair, the way their mouth moves, etc. Although you aren’t looking directly into their eyes, you’re looking in that general region so you avoid giving off the impression that you aren’t paying attention to them.

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    4. Focus on one eye at a time

    In reality, you can’t actually look at two eyes at the same time. If you try, you end up looking very laser-like. Subconsciously you most likely already have one eye, whether it be the left or right, that you typically focus on. However, it’s still recommended that you switch looking from one eye to another while having a conversation. Truthfully, it looks much more natural and shows more attention and interest.

    As a general rule, direct eye contact ranging from 30% to 60% of the time during a conversation – more when you are listening, less when you are speaking – should make for a comfortable productive atmosphere.

    As with anything, practice makes perfect and over time you’ll become much more comfortable with maintaining eye contact with someone. It’s not just about how to make eye contact with someone, it’s what you do once you have.

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    Erica Wagner

    Freelance Writer

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    Last Updated on May 21, 2019

    How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

    How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

    For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

    If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

    Example 1

    You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

    You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

    In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

    Example 2

    You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

    People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

    You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

    Example 3

    You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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    The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

    Example 4

    You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

    Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

    If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

    Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

    • Understand your own communication style
    • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
    • Communicate with precision and care
    • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

    1. Understand Your Communication Style

    To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

    In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

    Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

    2. Learn Others Communication Styles

    Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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    If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

    “How do you prefer to receive information?”

    This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

    To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

    3. Exercise Precision and Care

    A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

    On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

    Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

    I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

    I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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    In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

    The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

    Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

    4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

    Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

    In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

    “Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

    Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

    Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

    It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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    It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

    It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

    Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

    Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

    The Bottom Line

    When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

    I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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    Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

    Reference

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