Making Eye Contact

Greg Trutner writes:

One of the skills necessary for a job interview is the ability to hold eye contact. For me, holding eye contact is intense: there’s a lot going on inside a person’s eyeballs! Add glasses and it feels weird to me, almost like the glasses are a portal to that person’s soul. So what’s an Aspie to do?

Well, you can’t just look in their general direction. For me, it’s hard to have direct eye contact. But, if you don’t hold it, you come off as aloof or disinterested…or, at the very worst, it makes you seem like you have something to hide or that you’re being dishonest. But the good news is, all is not lost. The secret that works best for me is right between the eyes, at the bridge of the nose.

Now, why the bridge? The answer is because most people seem to think that that is eye contact. The tip of the nose makes it look like you’re looking up the person’s nostrils: clearly not the eyes. If you look behind them at a picture on the wall, that’s obvious, too, as is looking at the hair.

The bridge of the nose is great because it gets just enough of the eyes to capture facial expression. If the person is making a non-verbal cue at you with their eyes, you can quickly scan over to their eyes, or “zoom out” as it were, to look at the face as a whole (recommended only for people who are good with facial expressions: if you have no idea what different facial expressions mean at this point in your life, it’s better to keep focusing on the eyes). It also avoids awkwardness.

Indeed, when it comes to eye contact, the bridge is key.

Thomas D. Taylor writes:

What Greg said will work – after a fashion – but, while you are staring at the bridge of the nose, the person you are talking to will be looking at your eyes. This is because the person is trying to make a connection with you. When the subtle cues they are looking for in your eyes do not respond to the subtle cues they are giving you with theirs, they will either believe they are not being understood, or else that you are not interested in what they have to say.

Either way, you are not making the most optimal connection with them.

So what is the solution to the problem?

The solution to the problem is to learn how to look into someone’s eyes properly. This can be done by watching what others do in conversations. Watching YouTube videos where people are conversing with one another, either across a desk, across a table, or face to face may help. You should be able to pick up on

  1. Where the speaker’s eyes are when he or she is talking
  2. Where the listener’s eyes are when he or she is listening.
  3. Under what circumstances a listener’s and speaker’s eyes meet.
  4. How long to hold eye contact during different parts of the conversation.
  5. When eyes widen, narrow, etc., and what the eyes look like when different emotions are displayed.

Plenty of Aspies have learned to make and keep eye contact. It has been done. It can be done.

Aspies might want to ask themselves what it is about eye contact that intimidates them and work to address those issues specifically as well as doing the above.

Nothing prevents Aspies from succeeding at making eye contact at a job interview except their own limitations. If you do not feel you can succeed with overcoming the eye contact problem, revert to Greg’s suggestions. However, recognize that from an employer’s perspective, if they see you cannot even make eye contact with them, they are going to wonder what else you cannot do, and you may be passed over for hire for that reason.

This article was researched and written by
Thomas D. Taylor and Greg Trutner.

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