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Maintaining eye contact when absorbing information?

  1. Mar 5, 2013 #1
    Hi,
    In general maintaining eye contact talking with people creates a sense of connection, but how do you feel about maintaining eye contact when listening to complex instructions? I often find it hard to maintain eye contact if an instructor is telling me something complex (such as instructions to a chemistry experiment) and if I do focus on maintaining eye contact, it’s harder for me to absorb the information. If this due to insecurity, or is it a general thing that you must look away to take in important instructions?

    What are your thoughts on this matter?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 5, 2013 #2

    dx

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    For some reason I tend to look at the persons lips a lot of the time instead of their eyes.
     
  4. Mar 5, 2013 #3

    phinds

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    I don't think it matters what other people do. What you need to figure out / decide is how do YOU want to / need to deal with it.
     
  5. Mar 5, 2013 #4
    I think the problem is that your instructor is giving you harder instructions. I suggest you try the below posture when you try to make eye contact.

    angry.jpg

    That would tell him to give simpler instructions.
     
  6. Mar 5, 2013 #5
    Why? It's always interesting to see how various people behave in different situations.
     
  7. Mar 5, 2013 #6

    lisab

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    I'm an introvert, so I don't like eye contact with people I don't know well. Mix in complicated instructions, and no I don't like it at all.

    Maybe you can take notes, or make momentary eye contact to let the person know you're listening.
     
  8. Mar 5, 2013 #7

    Drakkith

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    Buahahaha!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  9. Mar 5, 2013 #8
    Yes. That posture always helps me get friendly with professors.
     
  10. Mar 5, 2013 #9
    I feel the same way as the OP
     
  11. Mar 5, 2013 #10

    dlgoff

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    What about when explaining something to someone? If you're like me, the mental images of the subject dominates. So seeing the absorbers eyes doesn't even register.
     
  12. Mar 5, 2013 #11

    lisab

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    Oh that's different. If I'm the one explaining I'm mostly focused on the information. But I still will wonder what the person is thinking/feeling if I look at their eyes too long.
     
  13. Mar 6, 2013 #12
    Eye contact? What's eye contact?

    I almost never make eye contact in conversations, which I find makes everything a lot easier. Perhaps it's no surprise that I find it hard to make new friends.
     
  14. Mar 6, 2013 #13

    MarneMath

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    Before the military, I used to never look a person in the eye. After years of being forced too, I can't help it. I stare down people as they give my instructions. If it requires me to write down the information, I repeat the information to them and write it down in my little green book.

    Although recently, I was told it made a certain coworker feel uneasy, so with her I look out a window or something.
     
  15. Mar 6, 2013 #14

    drizzle

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    I would look into the instructor's eyes:
    1- If s/he is not looking at me AND I'm not taking notes. Otherwise my eyes would wander around the room/board/the posture of the talker..
    2- When the instructor says something that would trigger a thought/idea/conclusion in my mind--I wouldn't care if s/he is looking at me or not at that moment. This might lead me to process some of these thoughts for a while, and once I get back to the lecture/talk, I notice that my eyes were fixed at some random spot in the room [or people, which is embarrassing sometimes. :shy:]

    But in general, I avoide looking into the person's eyes, especially if it may causes tension--to me or the talker.
     
  16. Mar 6, 2013 #15

    collinsmark

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  17. Mar 8, 2013 #16
    I wonder why is it that maintaining eye contact is so difficult? Are we scared to look into each others eyes?
     
  18. Mar 8, 2013 #17

    Drakkith

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    Scared? I don't think so. I think it's a sign of trust with someone, or a sign that you are willing to listen to them. Really listen, not just hear what they are saying.
     
  19. Mar 8, 2013 #18
    During conversation, you should make eye contact when it begins, sometime during the middle (even multiple times depending on the duration), and when it ends. Eye contact physically conveys your thoughts are with them rather than staring off into space.
     
  20. Mar 9, 2013 #19
    I think you should do whatever allows you to absorb more information. To hell with eye contact. Anyone can do THAT. You wanna be like the James Dean of Chemistry, the prof comes in talkin some mumbo jumbo, and you don't look straight at him like he (or she) expects you to do, like every other Lemming in the class... What you do is look down, pretend like your focused on some ant or something your trying to stomp on, something more important than his ranting soliloquy, and then mumble, in a barely audible voice, something very intelligent and out-of-the-box. See, that's why you're shy and don't look in the eye, it distracts the misunderstood prodigy from doing his (or her) genius work. As long as it's something intelligent you mumble, you're OK, if you mumble something like, "why are you picking on me?", not so good.

    A lot of students in grad school face similar questions, and think that prolonged direct eye contact will somehow help their careers. The place they often first try out this new technique is with their college department academic advisor. However, I can show you one example, at least, where this stolid stare down didn't seem to help much...

     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 25, 2014
  21. Mar 9, 2013 #20

    Drakkith

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    *scratches head*
    Dirac, you have an...interesting...perspective on life.
     
  22. Mar 10, 2013 #21

    Bacle2

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    According to NLP, you should try to mimmick their body language, so that ( as the theory goes), both of you have the same neural channels and pathways open*, which facilitates communication. I think I noticed myself more-or-less (unvoluntarily) modeling the body language of some people with whom I had non-trivial conversations.

    EDIT: the name of the technique is mirroring ; if you're interested, do a search for mirroring with nlp, e.g:

    http://www.cuil.pt/r.php?cx=0046045...ID:10&ie=UTF-8&q=mirroring+with+nlp&sa=Search

    * I'm just describing the theory as I know it; I can neither endorse it nor say it does not work, because I know too little about it to take either position.
     
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2013
  23. Mar 10, 2013 #22
    Are you being sarcastic? I hope so. If not that's the worst advice I've ever heard.
     
  24. Mar 10, 2013 #23
    Well yeah.. I guess my parody may not have been as obvious as I intended it to be, though. Perhaps I should have used a "Good will hunting" parody rather than a James Dean. It was just meant for a little comic relief to ease what I feel may be a triviality of the concern of the OP that may be more distracting to his intentions rather than advancing them. That is, I think that if what is going on in this interpersonal transaction is the transmittal of complex information, then the importance of non-verbal social cues may be allowed to take on a lesser or even non-importance. My guess is that the instructor is more concerned that his or her message is getting across rather than social prowess. If you were applying for job at a PR firm, on the other hand, you may want to spend some time working on your eye-contact skills and, oh yeah, don't cross your arms!
     
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2013
  25. Mar 11, 2013 #24

    Drakkith

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    It is incredibly difficult to know when someone is joking or not when you don't know them and all you have to go on is typed text.
     
  26. Mar 11, 2013 #25
    Eye contact with emoticons???

    That's why they invented emoticons :uhh: But you'd have to make eye contact with them :rolleyes: to understand their information.

    :bugeye: That's better :approve:
     
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