Failure to maintain good eye contact during a conversation can send the wrong message, making it harder for you to get your ideas heard and be taken seriously. Here are some examples of negative messages your eyes can send and what you can do to improve your messages.
Looking around the room rather than at the person you’re talking to can suggest that you think you’re more important than your conversation partner. Here’s how you can fix it.
- Sit next to the other person and avoid higher positions so you’re not showing authority.
- Use inclusive language such as “we” and “us,” and ask questions that show you’re interested.
- Summarize what the other person says to show you’re listening.
Quickly averting your gaze can show that you’re anxious, introverted or trying to get away from the conversation. Here’s how to fix it.
- Ask open-ended questions.
- Give compliments that show you’re paying attention.
- Plan topics to talk about beforehand so you can fill uncomfortable lulls in the conversation.
- Keep your chin up. It shows confidence and forces you to make more eye contact.
Looking away while hesitating with your words shows that you aren’t prepared or don’t know how to continue.
- Speak slower so your brain can keep up with what you want to say next.
- If you’re not sure what you want to say next, ask for a moment to gather your thoughts.
— Adapted from “What a Lack of Eye Contact Says About You, According to Science (and How to Fix It),” Wanda Thibodeaux, Inc.