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Exercises for having more eye contact

I have an issue with eye contact(EC) which I think may affect more people, so it could be interesting to discuss. Here's a description of my case:

I think the amount of EC I keep is below average. I keep a certain level of EC, but it feels unnatural, especially with people whom I don't know well.

The reasons why I don't have more EC are:

  • EC is distracting
    • If I am trying to tell someone something I can't form the proper ideas and phrasing because I need to put conscious effort into keeping my gaze towards his/her eyes.
  • false consensus
    • Because I've gotten unused to EC, it frequently feels cumbersome. Therefore, as soon as I have eye contact, I keep having thoughts that the other person feels same and that I should stop.
    • The optimal length of EC varies for every person and situation. Since to me most EC is effortful, I'm not sure when I've reached the acceptable social threshold. Guessing if I've reached the threshold or not makes me even more distracted from what I want to say.
  • being tired
    • When I'm tired, holding steady EC feels even more cumbersome.

There are various social situations(also described on this website) when (prolonged) EC is not desired, so I'm not looking to have massive EC. I'm looking for an "optimal level" of EC that feels neither cumbersome nor akward.

Possible solutions considered:

1.Writing on my hand to keep EC.

2.Writing different notes on my desk and on things that I use daily, reminding myself to keep EC.


Hey bluesky,

The usual intro: difficult to give you feedback here without interacting with you or seeing you in action.

As a general thing though, I find that EC is not the major thing that people get wrong and/or that stands in the way of people acting higher power or more effective.
It can be of course, but it's not the main one. Most people are within the "normal" range that doesn't not detract too many points -if at all- from their whole persona.

This might be because most people look at other people's eyes since birth, so it's one of those things that comes most natural to most.

That being said, there are exceptions.
Sometimes even people who act high confidence, high-dominance, and talk a lot can be exceptions (got a couple of examples in my mind).

Some situations where people slip up the most include more "formal" speeches/presentations, when at the center of attention, when giving directives, or when talking to multiple subjects.
But without looking at you, I can't say if you'd classify as one of those who are "doing it patently wrong".


I think that being conscious about it, like you're trying to do, can help.

So anything you do to remind you to pay attention to it and either do it more -or maybe less, in some circumstances- is more likely to help than not.

But besides focusing on yourself, I'd definitely advise you to also at how other people do it, including people who are high status.

bluesky has reacted to this post.
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?