Eye contact when talking with another person conveys sincerity, confidence and reassurance.
In Asian culture we are ‘taught’ not to look directly into an older / senior person eyes as a sign of respect.
In the ‘Western culture’ avoiding eye contact is regarded:
as if the person is not confident,
trying to hide something
cannot be trusted.
This leads to a significant handicap when one is in a communication settings as looking directly into another person’s eyes feels uncomfortable.
How to over come this hurdle?
My solution to the dilemma is:
When sitting across from a person at 2 – 3 feet e.g. at a communication station or consultation in out patients –
“FOCUS your gaze at the person’s SHOULDER TIP”.
To the observer it will seem you are looking at them making eye contact and for you – not having the direct gaze is more manageable and comfortable.
This does not mean you do not move your eyes at all during the discussion – move as you feel comfortable and confident.