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Who_Am_I
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09 Feb 2013, 6:08 am

(I've been meaning to make this topic for about 3 years now. Am I good at getting started on things, or what? :roll: )

Back on topic: I have noticed that there are different types of eye contact, and that some are easier for me to make than others.
For example: I have difficulty making eye contact in a social setting, or any situation where someone is trying to make a "connection" with me.
However, in my one-on-one composition lessons, I had no trouble whatsoever making eye contact with either of my teachers, and I have no trouble making eye contact with my students- in fact, I seek it out. I figured out that this is because it's a different type of eye contact- it's purpose is to find out if a person has received and understood information, rather than to make a personal connection.

Have you noticed different types of eye contact? Have the different forms differed in difficulty for you?


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Filipendula
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09 Feb 2013, 6:46 am

Yep.

I'm usually fine with eye-contact although I worry that i over do it sometimes since I can become too conscious of it (other times not consciously conscious at all) and then I don't know how to regulate it naturally anymore.

However, if my partner and I have a fight or if things get emotional in any way, I find it suddenly very difficult to look at him. The emotional burden is just too great for me and even a quick glance feels overwhelming, but perhaps that's normal. There's something about fear of judgement linked into that for me too, so it could be more of an avoidant thing.

Then, as you say, if there's a really interesting and mutual exchange of information going on, I find I have no problem whatsoever. However, if there's a scenario where I'm asked for information, but I don't know if the other person is genuinely interested or not, I get a sort of nervous energy as I respond and I don't know where to look or how much to say or anything like that. I think it's because I've learned to censor myself for fear of annoying/boring people, but when I'm doing that it's very hard to keep any body language working normally.

In standard social situations I think I'm reasonably okay, until such a point as I start to feel I'm giving away too much of the real me and then part of me wants to continue and share that, and another part of me is second guessing everything I do and say to see if it's socially acceptable and if they'll "get" me or not. And then I get the nervous back and forth glances starting up again. I'm not sure if this is a problem with the "connection" you mention or if my aversion/inability has a different source. I often take toys/projects to social situations so that I can focus on that if I don't know what to do with my eyes. Another good option at tea breaks is just to sit and stare into my cup and only look up occasionally in conversation. It just about passes as socially acceptable depending on the group.


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Vectorspace
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09 Feb 2013, 6:49 am

Absolutely. The significant factors for me are: spatial distance and social context.

The university psychologist told me that my eye contact behavior was absolutely normal during our conversation. But that's because the conversation was of factual nature and there was a distance of almost 2 meters.

When someone sits or stands close to me on a social occasion, I definitely do avoid eye contact.



Filipendula
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09 Feb 2013, 7:14 am

Vectorspace wrote:
But that's because the conversation was of factual nature and there was a distance of almost 2 meters.


Yeah, that would be fine for me too. Proximity is definitely another factor I hadn't thought of.


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echinopsis
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09 Feb 2013, 7:41 am

i figured that eye contact can have a number of different functions:


1. assure the person who is talking that you are interested and listening to what they say

2. get someones attention by seeking eye contact and signal that you want to talk to them

3. address the person you are looking at to show them that you are talking to them directly

4. look at a person to emphasize what you said and signal that it is important to understand


those are pretty straight forward and learnable and if you pay attention to just make eye contact during a conversation some time that will avoid a lot of confusion (about whether you are shy, arrogant, lying, inattentive, bored, sad, hostile, ..) and come across as normal and friendly.

nevertheless there are also other functions of eye contact that cant just be learned by remembering to look at people now and then because they involve receiving information about someones internal state from how they look at you, which is impossible when you just cant tell what it means. from what i understood those functions are mainly:


5. make sure if the person you are talking to understands what you said (no idea how that looks like)

6. figure out if the person you are talking to agrees with what you said (again, not the slightest idea)

7. figure out how a person feels right now and what they are thinking (so no idea. seems like telepathy to me)

7. make prolonged eye contact to signal something you dont talk about (flirting? anger? irritation? ...?)


my theory would be that those would all also include facial expressions that i just dont see or understand, but i really dont know. the first four are relatively easy for me, the rest is not. i always encourage people to please ask questions if they didnt get something, to tell me when they are mad at me or something else is going on because chances are i wont notice otherwise, to always speak their mind and to ignore it when i forget to look at them because ill still be listening. that helps a bit.



echinopsis
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09 Feb 2013, 9:02 am

relationship, context and distance dont make any difference for me btw, for me eye contact is just a functional rule of communication, very much like saying 'bye' or 'good morning'. people always assume that im terribly insecure when i fail to make proper eye contact, but its not insecurity, its just that i dont do that naturally because i cant read any information from their face, and since there is nothing to see for me i only pay attention to what they say and not to their eyes.



jk1
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09 Feb 2013, 9:41 am

I notice that when there is a practical topic that I am absorbed in, then eye contact happens rather naturally and quite comfortably. I'm not even too conscious of the eye contact. So the eye contact is rather a secondary thing.

When I'm talking with someone for the sake of talking, eye contact becomes unbearable because I'm very conscious of the presence of the other person and because I think about what he/she might be thinking about me (being self-conscious).

I think this must be the distinction the OP is making. I think I'm experiencing the same thing though depending on whom I'm talking with the difficulty of eye contact also varies.



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09 Feb 2013, 9:43 am

Hmm being someone who finds eye contact severly uncomfortable and distracting...I don't think I'd jude whether someone as received and understood information on their eye contact. I remember when teachers used to tell me 'your not listening.' when I was so I'd say I was and then they would say if I was than I would look at them.....when actually if I did that it would be harder for me to pay attention.

But I guess with general neurotypical people that works....anyways I struggle with all eye contact.


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09 Feb 2013, 10:26 am

When I'm relaxed or know the person well my eye contact is more normal, I look at the person, but when they want to make eye contact I can't keep it and look away. I can't look at people at all when I'm emotionally overloaded or anxious.



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09 Feb 2013, 12:14 pm

People have often told me that I have a very expressive face. I assume that this means beyond normal in their eyes. The only problem is that often my expressions are intended only for myself and not them, as I make all the same emotional faces in completely private situations. I often smile or chuckle when thinking about things often unrelated to my surroundings or the people there. Anyways people around me always seem to get confused. I also smile a lot whenever I’m nervous or anxious, which led people at work to call me Mr Happy. I know that I am not as happy as they think I am, but I always just figured it didn’t matter much. Then when I was in classes some professors would often say to me “you look confused”: sometimes I was, but often I wasn’t. It’s only been recently that I’ve realized that I have a thinking face expression where I furrow my brows when I’m deep in thought about certain things. It’s just something I’ve always done subconsciously. My thinking face or personal confusion face are nearly the same; and these are also the same as my ‘I want you to know I’m confused face’. The only difference is that when I want someone to know I’m confused I look that person in the eyes until they know I’m confused. It’s the same for when I’m happy: if I want them to know I will look at them in the eyes. So essentially I have private emotions on my face when I’m not looking at people’s eyes and am trying to share emotions with people when I am looking them in the eyes. Unfortunately NTs seem to think emotions on your face are directed at them even if you are not looking at them: I guess I’m supposed to have a blank face when having private thoughts, especially when listening to someone, but I can’t seem to turn off my subconscious facial expressions. So I guess my use of or lack of eye contact to say my current facial expressions are for you or not for you is probably odd.


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09 Feb 2013, 12:33 pm

Who_Am_I wrote:
Have you noticed different types of eye contact? Have the different forms differed in difficulty for you?


I can make eye contact because I know people like it. Otherwise for some reason they don't trust you, so I make it a point to look there. Mostly, I look in only one of their eyes at a time, or at a spot between their eyes. If I look into both their eyes and it's not my husband or kids, it feels like I'm looking at their private parts and they're looking at mine, LOL



littlelily613
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09 Feb 2013, 6:58 pm

I never noticed that there are different types of contact. I don't make eye contact with anyone in any situation.


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btbnnyr
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09 Feb 2013, 7:01 pm

Yes, eye contact is more natural for me in some situations than others. The worst is when I am in a group, and I am talking into the air without looking at anyone, eyes straight ahead focused on an empty spot in the middle of the group.



Who_Am_I
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09 Feb 2013, 7:06 pm

Sweetleaf wrote:
Hmm being someone who finds eye contact severly uncomfortable and distracting...I don't think I'd jude whether someone as received and understood information on their eye contact. I remember when teachers used to tell me 'your not listening.' when I was so I'd say I was and then they would say if I was than I would look at them.....when actually if I did that it would be harder for me to pay attention.

But I guess with general neurotypical people that works....anyways I struggle with all eye contact.


It works with most people.
I have a few students who it doesn't work with, so I don't use it in that way with them.


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Authentic cadence: V-I
Plagal cadence: IV-I
Deceptive cadence: V- ANYTHING BUT I ! !! !
Beethoven cadence: V-I-V-I-V-V-V-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I
-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I! I! I! I I I


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10 Feb 2013, 4:26 am

I never make eye contact, it's just too distracting. I can fake it by looking at peoples' mouths when they're talking, but I have to be looking at something bland and stationary and non-living like a wall or a piece of furniture or sometimes even the ceiling if I'm talking to people regardless of who they are, I even have to do that with my friends and family, though I don't think it's actually all that odd; I've studied patterns of eye contact in NT's and noticed that they rarely make it when talking, they usually look down or to the side and only meet your eyes occasionally -- though it's usually just their eyes that look away, not their whole heads like I do -- so maybe our "lack of eye contact" is more overrated than we think.


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11 Feb 2013, 2:55 pm

Strangers are hard to make eye contact with.

People I know very well, it isn't as hard.


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