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Eye staring

Maybe you’ve heard it a million times before and even experience this yourself. However, it still amazes me just how many people don’t get that it’s completely ridiculous to have to look people right in the eye to show engagement.

Do you ever remember a parent or teacher saying these words to you?

‘Look at me when I’m talking to you.’

Yep… been there!

It’s as if by not looking, it’s some flagrant display of defiance.


I think my daughter put it best when she so aptly said, ‘I don’t listen with my eyes’, when discussing the rather intrusive eyeball demands of her teacher that day.

Another one of my favourite quotes is from John Elder Robison:

‘I don’t really understand why it’s considered normal to stare at someone’s eyeballs.’

So, here are some eyeball issues revisited to get this message across…


People listen with their ears

It’s a revelation, I know. But when talking to someone who’s uncomfortable with including a staring contest in every conversation, look somewhere else. And never demand that people look you in the eyes when you’re talking to them.

Now don’t get me wrong, there are instances where you may have to repeat yourself or ask a question about the topic you’re discussing to establish whether or not the person you’re talking to follows along. But that’s all you need for evidence of engagement—a little conversational reciprocity.

man staring
single staring eye
single staring eye
bird staring
womens staring eyes

Staring is invasive

Sometimes it may be because we need a little space. Maybe someone is having a bad day and would rather avoid giving away signs of their emotions. As Carol Ann Edscorn has said:

‘Our wounds and hurts and fears are in our eyes. Humans think they build ‘walls’ for internal privacy. They think eye contact is about honesty, but they mostly lie because they think they can hide their intent. Eye contact is invasive.’


Let us all relax a little.

We know you’re talking to us without us having to eyeball each other.

Ask me a question, and I can respond without several uncomfortable minutes of…


Staring man eyes


…this going on. Okay?



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