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3 Ways To Improve Eye Contact Skills

Posted on October 25, 2018
Image of a woman's eyes looking straight into the camera.

We have all spoken to someone who struggles to make eye contact. Their eyes dart about focused on anything but you and the conversation. This can leave the you feeling distrustful, annoyed, or even unimportant. Eye contact is a nonverbal communication skill required for every relationship, but it is crucially important in business relationships to convey confidence, leadership, engagement, and it shows you are listening.

Liz Guthridge, who writes for Forbes argues “In the workplace, the lack of strong eye contact when we’re physically present with others has another downside. Besides reducing our sense of emotional connections, we’re losing our ability to come across as trustworthy and influential.”

According to iCIMS’ report on Hiring Insights, 68% recruiting professionals reported “avoiding eye contact” is a common mistake people make in interviews.

Maintaining good eye contact is not just about getting the job, it is also about advancing your career. I cannot recall the last time I spoke with someone in a senior leadership position who did not have excellent eye contact skills.

For those who struggle with making and maintaining eye contact, improving it may seem like an impossible task. Like any skill, it can be honed and improved.

Follow these tips will help you improve your eye contact skills.

Solicit Help from a Trusted Colleague

Ask someone you trust at work to help you by pointing out when your eyes begin to roam. A simple nod, clearing of the throat, etc. can be the signal to draw your eyes back.

Actively Make Eye Contact

Take steps to make eye contact a habit by making eye contact with everyone. Actively try and notice the color of their eyes as the first step. The more you do it, the more comfortable you will become with making the eye contact.

Practice Makes Perfect

Once you have made good progress on making eye contact with everyone, then while engaged in a conversation, practice keeping that eye contact longer by pushing yourself. You could do so by setting benchmarks, such as keeping eye contact until the person finishes a sentence or two sentences. It may feel awkward and calculated at first, which is why it is important to solicit the assistance of a trusted colleague, but it will become more and more comfortable over time.

Begin by assessing your eye contact skills. Then ask that trusted colleague (or a supportive boss) to rate your eye contact skills. If they need improvement, then get to work because practice makes perfect.


Anne Converse Willkomm
Assistant Clinical Professor
Goodwin College
Drexel University
Posted in interpersonal-communications, professional-development-career-tips