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Now comes time to address the most challenging part of body language—at least in my eyes.
That’s right, it’s time for the dreaded eye contact.
It is popular to say that eyes are the window into the soul. I agree with this wholeheartedly—it’s the number one reason why eye contact is so difficult, but absolutely crucial to making friends.
This is because looking someone in the eye shows that you are interested in what they have to say. When you constantly look away from someone because you are too embarrassed, it can send mixed messages, the worst being that you are so disinterested that you make a concerted effort to look away.
For shy people, this isn’t true, we are interested. However, it doesn’t make us an exception to the rules.
In my case, I often feel weird when I look into someone’s eyes, and this is because I have a habit of staring—I’m an intensely focused human being. WikiHow.com writes that this can also make you appear to be trying too hard or even like a creepy stalker.
This isn’t exactly encouraging, because those are the reasons I have a hard time looking into someone’s eyes—I fear that I will give someone the wrong impression with my fixed gaze.
However, by looking away, I am also giving people the wrong impression while shutting down any possibility of communication. If you don’t work on it, it’s going to be a lose-lose situation.
This is why I have begun to focus on other body communication that can help my eye contact. One key is to just pay attention to what someone is saying and act naturally according to your interest. If it’s a happy topic, smile. Smiling and nodding are perfectly natural things to do when having a conversation, and it is better than having a blank, wide-eyed stare (which I used to have).
As far as initiating conversation goes, don’t try to look away when someone makes eye contact with you. Smile instead. It’s not weird and it’s not creepy, especially at a party if you want to talk to someone.
Remember, if you look like you don’t want to be spoken to, no one will talk to you. On the other hand, if you project a positive, happy demeanor, it can be contagious.