Don’t Look Away: 5 Reasons Why Eye Contact Is Super Important

Bianca Hofman
Bianca Hofman is a Dutch ultrashort-story writer, based in Barcelona, Spain. She writes super short stories about dating, culture and career. But who is Morris? Morris is Bianca’s imaginary muse, her yin, her alter ego, whatever you want to call him. "Y" means "And" in Spanish, in case you didn’t know. Yes, Bianca&Morris. Bianca has a passionate relationship with the city she lives in. Together with her sister she founded Barcelona Hofman, a flash fiction collaboration. The sisters launched Barcelona Hofman, May 2016, with an exposition during the open art gallery weekend in Barcelona. Facebook: Instagram: Twitter: @biancaymorris and @Bianca_Hofman

In the past, more than once, I have felt quite uncomfortable during one-to-one conversations because I was not sure where to look when speaking to someone. Direct eye contact, not only with strangers, but also with friends, classmates, lovers or colleagues, would make me feel nervous, and at times, give me the idea that the other person was reading my thoughts.

In these moments my eyes had two options:

1. Freeze in a weird staring sheep gaze
2. Avoiding contact all together.

Because just by looking into someone’s eyes you can, fall in love, seduce, show interest or simply communicate without words. Eye contact is a skill you need to master to be successful in personal and professional relationships. Thankfully, I’ve learned that you can let your eyes do the work for you.

Okay, I have to admit that some men from the recent past still managed to make me nervous. And when I have to talk about my doubts and fears, I still find it a bit hard to look someone in the eyes. Yet, generally speaking, my eyes don’t do the frozen sheep gaze anymore, nor the avoiding eye contact moves.

The right eye contact helps you to improve relationships with the people around you. Many times it’s not what you say, but how you say it that matters. If you’re one of those that feel completely uncomfortable making eye contact, you’re not alone. Fortunately, I’ve learned some tips and tricks along the way:


1. Eye contact etiquette is not universal.

Direct eye contact is not a way to show respect and interest everywhere you go. Good to know when you are traveling or doing business with other cultures!


2. Eye contact can be a confidence builder.

Our reaction to eye contact can also relate to how we perceive ourselves. The more socially comfortable a person feels, the more he or she may enjoy eye contact.


3. Practice on the nose

Practice is key. You might not be able to look at someone’s eyes for 1 second. Don’t worry. Looking in between the person’s eyes is a good start.


4. Watch the mirror

Spot your own reflection in someone’s eyes. When you are not trying to fix your make-up watching the “mirror,” it is a playful way to overcome eye contact obstacles.


5. Don’t gaze

Of course, staring in your lover’s eyes during dinner under the stars is perfectly fine, but in many day-to-day situations a fixed gaze is a bit creepy. There are no strict guidelines though. Some say casually breaking the eye contact every three seconds works.