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Admin Pro Forum

How do you stop being shy about eye contact?

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Question: "I continue to have a problem making eye contact with people for any length of time. I know some other people who are like this, and I realize now that this is me too, and it doesn't send a great image at work (or anywhere else). Any tips on how to get over this, or some workarounds?" - Lance, Administrative Assistant

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Cindy L. Asselstine March 11, 2019 at 12:47 pm

I am the parent of an adult child with high functioning Asperger’s Syndrome and a Special Education Advocate for 15-years and this has been an issue I have had a lot of experience with. I also struggle with eye contact when I was younger that incited panic attacks. If you look at people’s chin they won’t know your not making eye contact. You can also look at the nose and forehead. In order to make this issue better you’re going to have to desensitize yourself by actually making eye contact. Try starting with someone you don’t know and will not likely see again, or rarely, like a cashier at a store. Say, “Hi”, while looking at their eyes. The more you do it the easier it will become. And you can overcome it.

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Thea February 27, 2019 at 8:55 am

I read about a guy who was afraid of talking to girls and so he forced himself to talk to one in the park every day for a whole month. I think the same principle applies here–practice. Practice with your friends–tell them what you’re doing and ask them to remind you if you’re dropping your eyes too much. You might even move from there to making eye contact with strangers who you know aren’t likely to read too much into it–maybe elderly people, or children. But I’ve also read a tip that seems to make sense: Look completely downwards when listening to someone, because it seems like you’re concentrating and really listening. Not a bad alternative if you really can’t make eye contact.

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Dawn February 21, 2019 at 4:25 pm

Look at their eyebrows or nose!

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Carol February 21, 2019 at 4:17 pm

This used to be a big problem for me…by nature I am an introvert and eye contact is really hard. The I worked with someone for several years that made steady contact with anyone he spoke with, which unnerved me a bit but I decided to try being more like him. The only problem with constant eye contact is that it begins to feel like a stare down match. I choose to use eye contact as I was taught when giving a speech…you work the room, making contact with others throughout. Yes, difficult to do when it is one on one. But I still do the “speech” thing when I can by referring to material they may have brought in or that I am sharing with them to help them identify the general area where they can find information after they leave. If they are making an inquiry, I may grab a notepad and pen to make notes for them, to add to a file I may have on them or their subject, or to help me make inquiries if I need to follow up with them on information . The note taking is especially helpful for me as my work can be interrupted quite often and this gives me a checklist to follow so I know where I left off.
Doing these “tricks” lets me break up that contact so it isn’t a staring match and helps me feel like the contact I do make is conveying more honest “unspoken” language.

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Deb February 21, 2019 at 4:07 pm

Practice, practice, practice! I used to be incredibly shy and had to work at this too. Let your friends know you are working on this and start there. Then start with strangers who you don’t have any involvement with. It does get easier. But remember that making eye contact does not mean staring someone down, just making the eye contact and smiling quickly is a great way to start.

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Jennifer February 22, 2019 at 10:13 am

Yes, it is simple and logical. However it is changeling to implement. It is totally work the work to advance your career.

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