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We look at people every single day, but we don’t always realize how important eye contact really is. We don’t realize all that can be gathered about a person by just engaging in eye contact. Unfortunately for shy people, they are at a disadvantage because they usually have difficulty holding eye contact.

For example, when you are in the middle of a job interview or you are on a date, you want to keep your focus on the person you are trying to impress. I’m sure that you’ve heard before that first impressions are everything. Although I do not agree with that statement entirely, I do think it definitely holds some truth. Imagine being on a date with someone, you’re trying to have a conversation with them, and they are looking at everything going on around them instead of paying attention to you. You’d feel pretty ignored, right? You’d feel as if the person you’re talking to is totally disinterested in what you have to say. It’s an awful feeling, even if they aren’t doing it intentionally.

I’m talking about practicing engaging eye contact well enough so that you appear to be totally engaged, even if you aren’t. It all boils down to respect, appreciation, understanding and interest in what the other person is saying. If you’re one of those shy people who really struggles with keeping eye contact, or you’re someone who just wants some tips and techniques, we’ll teach you how to make eye contact.

4 clever tricks to make eye contact

1. Imaginary Inverted Triangle

Some people find it very awkward to stare into someone else’s eyes, so here’s a little trick to help with that. Draw an imaginary triangle on the person’s face around their mouth and eyes. While holding a conversation with someone, change your gaze to another point on the triangle. This will give off the impression that you’re interested in the conversation. Sounds a little silly but it works! Give it try.

2. Practice without leaving your couch

Probably the easiest way for anyone to do anything, ever. I mean, you don’t even need to leave your couch. This works really well for those who are shy and aren’t ready to practice on real people just yet. I always like to recommend that taking notice of a person’s eye color is a good place to start. Especially since down the road you want to be able to have reached a point where you can look someone in the eyes and not feel uncomfortable and awkward.

When you’re watching a TV show or a movie, every time a new character comes on the screen up close take notice of the color of their eyes, hair, etc. Eventually when you’ve felt like you’ve had enough practice, noticing these things on real people and making eye contact with them will come naturally.

3. Take notice of their other features

I’ll be honest, it can be extremely intimidating when looking into a person’s eyes, especially if they’re someone of authority. I have always struggled with eye contact myself. It makes me nervous. I have found that it helps to pay close attention to their features. I take notice of freckles on their face, the color of their hair, the way their mouth moves, etc. Although you aren’t looking directly into their eyes, you’re looking in that general region so you avoid giving off the impression that you aren’t paying attention to them.

4. Focus on one eye at a time

In reality, you can’t actually look at two eyes at the same time. If you try, you end up looking very laser-like. Subconsciously you most likely already have one eye, whether it be the left or right, that you typically focus on. However, it’s still recommended that you switch looking from one eye to another while having a conversation. Truthfully, it looks much more natural and shows more attention and interest.

As a general rule, direct eye contact ranging from 30% to 60% of the time during a conversation – more when you are listening, less when you are speaking – should make for a comfortable productive atmosphere.

As with anything, practice makes perfect and over time you’ll become much more comfortable with maintaining eye contact with someone. It’s not just about how to make eye contact with someone, it’s what you do once you have.

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