Making prolonged eye contact opens up an interesting can of worms; eye contact can be your door into confidence. Eye contact can make you aware and present to the moment and also it can be one of those seemingly impossible things to do if you’re not all that confident.
On the other hand; if you’re confident, then having eye contact is not just “easy”; it's natural.
Making good eye contact is actually an expression of how you feel inside, when you feel completely comfortable there’s actually no reason why you shouldn’t make eye contact with everyone.
Eye contact actually is a natural consequence of feeling comfortable. But making prolonged eye contact with others can actually lead you to feeling comfortable socially.
Of course, when you’ve gone through life not making prolonged eye contact with people, forcing yourself to do it will actually make you really uncomfortable; I’ve been there don’t worry, let’s learn how to overcome it.
Making prolonged eye contact communicates a few things both to YOURSELF and to others:
That’s what you communicate to others and to yourself.
I sometimes catch myself avoiding eye contact with people and this is basically because in my own mind I’m just unwilling to go through the “discomfort” that conversation or interaction brings. Not making prolonged eye contact reinforces your socially-scared mentality.
A good way to kick yourself out of that mental state is to first notice what you’re doing, second to remember that talking with others is not a big deal (duh) and with this positive and relaxed mentality just look at people in the eyes.
If you just force yourself into it, though effective, you might go through that unnecessary anxiety.
With the “fearless of brief interactions” mentality start making eye contact.
If you’ve ever felt really confident in any situation and there’s been someone who’s being shy, you might have noticed how absurd it might seem from an outsider’s perspective.
Even though you and I KNOW what it’s like to feel shy and anxious and how hard it might be sometimes to try to break through it; getting that outside perspective is a good way to reason yourself into relaxing. When it comes to holding eye contact, this point also relates.
Because eye contact doesn’t only show your own confidence, it also shows your trust of others.
People want you to feel cool and relaxed around them; at least people who aren’t just being asses. Take this knowledge and realize that the anxiety you might feel from making prolonged eye contact with someone is indeed silly.
It might not feel silly from time to time, but at least you KNOW that it’s silly. This is where you start practicing holding good eye contact and just ignore your own emotions.
Seriously, it isn’t. Some people might have pretty good eye contact as a natural consequence of how they’re feeling; but you’re just a guy who wants to improve his social skills and eye contact.
Never expect perfection when learning.
Let’s make it objective. What would you consider “failing” when making eye contact? Is it getting nervous and looking away? Is it being too nervous to even start it?
There’s really no failure here, you are just practicing your ability to be more comfortable looking at people in the eyes, right?
Big surprise if you still feel nervous at times? Well, it shouldn’t be. You’ll never be perfect, you’ll just get more and more comfortable and stop making a bigger deal out of it whenever it’s “not perfect”.
When practicing something new and that might make you uncomfortable, the first thing you’ve got to realize is that your emotions might want to discourage you from doing such things. This is why you’ll feel anxious as your body reacts to “danger”.
What you want to do is to realize that you are training in a new skill and stop paying attention to emotions that want to make you go back into relaxing in your comfort zone. Ignore and embrace the discomfort, because that discomfort means that you are leaving that comfort zone and therefore growing.
Making prolonged eye contact should become a part of your daily life, it’s not supposed to be something you DO; it’s supposed to be something you ARE. Gradually work on it and let it settle in you. Practice every time you can and after you’ve gotten some comfort with it, stop practicing. Go out and Get Social!