Some people have anxiety about making eye contact. They may feel very uncomfortable looking directly into someone’s eyes or very shy to do it. They may feel judged or overly scrutinized when making eye contact with someone.
In a job interview, however, it’s very important to make eye contact. People who don’t might be viewed as overly shy or withdrawn. Interviewers may think they’re not listening or interested. They may even think the interviewee is hiding something. It can be a reason for being passed over for the job. As a result, it’s important to be able to make eye contact comfortably. Here are some tips on how to do that.
Lessen your anxiety: practice making eye contact with friends or family
The first step is to reduce the anxiety you feel when making eye contact. Ask your friends and family to help you. In everyday situations, make eye contact. Make a point of it: you may be surprised by how often you don’t. Ask friends and family to tell you when you’re not – and then do it.
Practice interview situations specifically with people who are close to you. Sit at a desk with them facing you, at roughly the same distance as interviewers do. Make eye contact initially. Make eye contact when you speak. Keep practicing until you feel less anxious.
Improve your skills
People with eye-contact anxiety may not know how to make eye contact because they never do it. Believe it or not, specific skills are involved.
First, always make eye contact before you start speaking. When you’re first introduced to someone, make eye contact. Not doing any of these things makes you seem disengaged.
Second, don’t simply stare into someone’s eyes all the time in an interview situation. That’s as notable as never making eye contact. Most people naturally look into people’s eyes for 4 to 5 seconds and then look away and then look back. Practice looking for that amount of time and then looking somewhere else.
Third, when you look away, don’t look down. That can make you look anxious or overly shy. Look to the side or at another spot on the person’s face.
Fourth, break eye contact when you gesture or move, such as moving in your chair.
Fifth, look at people more often when you’re listening to them than when you’re speaking. The rule of thumb is look 50% when speaking and 70% if listening.
Finally, if you still feel intense anxiety when looking in their eyes, look at another place on their face, like chin or nose.
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