Making Eye Contact in Conversation - The Do's and the Don'ts

By: Royane Real

Have you ever wondered why some people seem to make new friends so easily, while others find it so hard to form successful relationships with new people?

Researchers who study relationships have discovered that a big difference between those people who make new friends easily, and those who don't, is that socially successful people tend to make eye contact with their conversation partners much more frequently than those who are less successful socially.

Many shy people never make eye contact at all. When speaking with others, people who are socially unsuccessful and who have a hard time making new friends, are more likely to look down at the ground, or look away. They rarely will look at the face of the person they are talking with.

If you have been less successful in making friends than you wish, you may be able to become much more socially successful by making this one simple change to your behavior.

Most North Americans, especially Caucasians, prefer to have a lot of eye contact when they are talking with someone. When a person doesn't make eye contact with them, North Americans tend to assume that person is hiding something. The very phrase "shifty-eyed" connotes a person whose eyes dart around the room, implying that they are untrustworthy.

When you are having a conversation with someone and you want to leave a friendly impression, be sure to keep looking at that person frequently while you are talking. You donít need to use a piercing stare, a friendly gaze will do.

If it really bothers you to look directly into another personís eyes, you can look at the personís face without focusing solely on the eyes. If you gaze generally at the eyebrow area or the bridge of the nose, this is close enough to the eye region that you will appear to be looking at the person's eyes. You may find that it eases your own discomfort if you let your vision go slightly out of focus.

Whenever you are in conversation with someone, keep the majority of your focus on the other person. If you glance around the room too much, or look too frequently at other people, your conversation partner may assume that you are bored, or that you are looking around for someone else you would rather talk with.

If you have difficulty knowing exactly how to make eye contact, you can benefit from practicing in front of a mirror, or practice with another person.

Donít stare at other people too intensely however! A very intense, unblinking stare can make your conversation partners feel very uncomfortable.

You can lighten the impression you are making by smiling more often, nodding, and by gazing at the entire face as well as the eyes. In addition, you can frequently glance away for brief periods.

When people get the sense that you are really paying attention to them, and that you enjoy talking with them, they will be much more likely to want to have conversations with you!

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This article is from the new report by Royane Real, titled "Your Guide to Making Friendly Conversation" If you want to improve your conversation skills, download it today or get the paperback version at

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