Eye Contact. It is a topic for which there is a staggering amount of confusing advice. And for good reason.
Someone can teach you how to physically walk up to a woman, what to verbally say in a conversation and even, to a certain extent, how to touch her.
But it is very difficult to teach guys how to do things with their eyes. I’m good friends with one of the best guys in the world when it comes to women, Cory Skyy. He does most of his pickup with eye contact alone.
But very little of what he teaches is the actual mechanics of eye contact. It’s too complicated and relies so heavily on inner game, which he does teach.
Eye contact is closely related to approach anxiety in that for shy guys, it comes down to one thing: conflict avoidance.
One of the hallmarks of social anxiety is eye gaze avoidance. Numerous studies support this. People with social anxiety tend to have difficulty holding eye contact.
My friend Kelvin, who has dealt with social anxiety for years, talks about his aversion to eye contact.
“I have always had difficulty looking people in the eye. I don’t remember being traumatized in any particular way involving eye contact, but I always had a very, very hard time looking people in the eye.”
“I associate looking people in the eye with people being really, really mad at me. I feel intimidated, like they are either judging me really, really hard, or they are about ready to punch me. That is just kind of my gut reaction any time I look someone in the eye, unless they are just super smiley or super upbeat.”
Eye contact is intrinsically tied to confidence. It is in our biology. When conflicts occur, animals “display” themselves in order to show dominance.
When displaying in a conflict, an animal will assess his opponent and himself. If he perceives his opponent to be more dominant, he gives way.
This allows rank order to form. Rank hierarchy is a necessary evil among animals to reduce conflict and allow for animals with competing interests to co-exist in relative harmony.
When an animal “gives way,” he signals to the other that he is submissive. These submissive signals are stereotyped for any given species and are surprisingly consistent on up through the evolutionary chain.
In The Evolution of Depression, Paul Gilbert notes
The beginnings of our story go back a long way. Both reptiles and birds form ranks which result in ownership of a breeding territory. When contests for territory occur, there is a particular kind of interactional display. First, the contestants face each other and stand erect, stiff-legged, and/or puff themselves up; they engage in what is called ritualistic agonistic behavior. This may be a stand-off situation and still occurs in humans, such as standing erect and meeting eye gaze, especially when there is to be a physical contest (e.g., in boxing, wrestling, and American football perhaps). To maintain eye gaze in such situations is to show a lack of fear. This is a very primitive power signal. It allows the individual to work out if the contestant facing them is stronger or weaker and then respond appropriately. It’s quite important that the animal gets that judgment of comparative strength correct, not only to avoid getting into or prolonging dangerous fights, but also to contest those situations that it could win and be socially successful in.
So how do you get better at eye contact?
As you improve your inner game and build confidence through approaching women, your eye contact will naturally improve.
Until then, here are ten tips to focus on.
1. When you make eye contact with a woman you don’t know, let her look away first. Practice holding eye contact with people longer. Start with your friends. Then start giving more eye contact to strangers. If you meet eyes with a woman, try to let her look way before you do.
2. When you break eye contact, don’t look back for a fraction of a second. People with low-confidence tend to look at a person, look away, and then look back again momentarily. This is a “checking” motion. It shows neediness because you are checking to see what the other person is doing rather than being confident in yourself.
3. Relax and have a pleasant look on your face. When you do make eye contact with someone lighten up your face. Put on a hint of a smile or at least relax your face as much as possible. You want it to look warm, inviting and pleasant, perhaps how it would look if you were talking to a friend. If women are getting creeped out or always looking away, it’s likely you are too intense. To ease up on the intensity when you make eye contact, try looking gently past her, as if you are looking at the space behind her rather than staring her in the eyes.
4. Give as much eye contact as possible when in conversation. When you are in a conversation and the other person is talking, look them in the eye 100% of the time. It’s okay to look away a bit more if you’re talking–but don’t drift off for too long. When you are talking, look the other person in the eye 70-100% of the time. It’s also okay to look away when you are joking around with her or teasing her.
5. When in a group, always look at whom ever is speaking. You don’t always have to be the center of attention. It’s okay to give other people the spotlight. But you want to make sure that you look at whom ever is speaking at the time. If you are looking elsewhere, you come across as reclusive and disengaged.
6. Getting eye contact is about what you do with your whole body. How much eye contact you get from women will have more to do with your body language than the way you move your eyes. If you are walking with a confident swagger, you will get more eye contact. Women notice you from a mile away, probably before you even notice them. And what they see is how you move. They see how you carry yourself.
I like to visualize that I own the place, that I’m walking around making sure everyone is having fun. I also sometimes visualize that I’m a police officer, that I own the road and I’m looking past all these civilians for something important. Basically the idea is that you are a very important person.
7. Get Comfortable Being Seen. Eye contact is dependent more on how you react to people when they look at you, rather than how you look at other people. Confident guys are normally the leaders of their group. Everyone in the group is looking to them to see what’s going to happen next. The confident guys absorbs the gaze of those around him. He enjoys it. You can practice getting comfortable being seen by taking up a lot of space.
When walking I like to visualize is that I’m not letting people get past me on the sidewalk. How would you walk if you didn’t want people to pass you? You would make yourself bigger. When I walk into a room, I walk through the center of it, even if it’s empty. If I’m sitting with a group of people, I opt for the middle of the group.
8. Keep your eyes at the horizon level or above as opposed to looking down. Looking down is associated with shame and deference to a superior. Picture children when they get in trouble and an adult is yelling at them. They hang their head in shame and look down. You want to do the opposite of this. Try to keep your gaze at the horizon level or above. Particularly when you break eye contact with people, don’t look down, look to the either side.
9. When approaching a woman, don’t stare at her. When walking over to a woman to talk to her, try not to focus too much on her. This is simply because it’s intimidating. She can feel you staring at her and it puts her defenses up. When I approach, I act as if I were looking around for something and am about to ask her for directions. Even if she’s not looking directly at you, she can still feel someone’s eye gaze on her and it may freak her out. You definitely want to give her eye contact when you get to her. But try looking away for a bit before you get to her.
10. Do not wait for eye contact to approach. If I waited for eye contact before I approached, I would never approach anyone. I was never good at the eye contact game and I approached and dated many many women. I began to get a lot more eye contact after I started approaching. The approaching made me confident and women could sense that. They were attracted to that. Learn as much as you can about eye contact but don’t rely on it. If you are still learning the signals you will still need to approach to find out if you are reading the signals correctly.
There are really no hard and fast rules when it comes to eye contact. Try some different things and see what works for you. Every person is different.
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