It is natural for all human beings, in a normal society, to avoid eye contact. This is a result of living in close quarters, very close together, closer than we ever have in all of history.
Eye contact is a sign of intimacy. If a couple doesn’t have eye contact, they aren’t close. Lack of eye contact helps us feel comfortable in crowded spaces. Your iPhone helps with this a lot, without you even thinking about it.
Eye contact is a signal of complicity. If people have prolonged eye contact, they probably know each other and are involved (or want to be).
Eye contact is also a sign of power, and it’s this aspect in particular that we’re concerned with today.
If you have never outright thought about it, your eyes are probably very evasive. I figured this out about myself a long time ago. I would avoid eye contact, and by doing so, I’d both be avoiding intimacy and displaying inferiority over someone else.
You’ll notice that, when you look at someone and they look back, it gives you almost a feeling of defiance if you keep looking. If you look down, you are showing embarrassment. You’re almost apologetic with your eyes. Interesting, right?
Your homework for this weekend is to explicitly make eye contact with people you don’t know.
As you walk down the street, when you’d normally avoid eye contact with people who walk by you, look them straight in the eye.
Some won’t even look at you, while others will. But don’t worry about others’ reactions. You’re doing this for yourself.
If people look at you, just gaze back at them for a second. Don’t stare for like 10 seconds– in fact, you won’t need to because most people will look away instantly. As you watch this happen, keep in mind that this is what you used to do.
If you catch yourself looking away, don’t worry, you’re just practicing.
Easy thing to remember: don’t open your eyes wide open. This makes you look like a psycho. Instead, narrow your gaze. Another thing: eye contact means different things in different cultures. Remember this as you practice.
Good luck with your assignment. Report back in the comments when you’re done.