A lot of the skills we need in connecting with others can be developed as we go about the ordinary business of our daily lives.
It is well known, for example, that eye contact is one the main ways that connection and attraction is felt between people. Good eye contact generates a kind of electricity and creates a feeling of connection. This feeling of connection is not something we should save up and only expect from a special someone in our life, It is something which we can use to connect with any number of people and give greater richness and depth to our life.
If we think about it we can see that looking and being looked at is a fundamental human need. For instance, think of the ways kids behave, with constant cries of ‘Look at me mummy!’. When we don’t look and are not looked at we feel isolated.
However, we need to respect the boundaries and feelings of other people and not impose ourselves on them. Good eye contact is a skill. It takes practice to develop skills. No need to wait till we have ‘that special person’ in front of us before we try it for real. That would be like an athlete never training and assuming he/she can win a big race.
We do not have to limit eye contact to people we consider as potential partners, or people we want We can develop skills beforehand so that we stand a much better chance of getting it right when someone does come along.
We can use eye contact to create and deepen a feeling of connection with lots of other people in our lives. We can use it with family, friends, colleagues, acquaintances, or even just people we bump into during the day – though careful with that one!
Not that I am suggesting that you go around trying to stare intensely into the eyes of everyone you meet. What I am suggesting is just that you gently look people in the eye, hold a slight smile and keep eye contact for just a wee bit longer than you normally would. Even one or two seconds (or even half a second) can make a big difference.
Of course, if the person looks uncomfortable back off right away. I like to make eye contact while thinking about something I like, or admire, about the person. It can be anything; their hair, clothes, style, smile, or of course, their eyes. This helps generate a happy feeling in the other person.
Try it first with people you know fairly well, then, when you get the idea of it, extend it to people you don’t know so well. The chances are you feel closer to those people and they will feel closer to you.
If you are really shy you can even try it first with plants or trees! Just pretend that the flowers or leaves are the eyes and beam a slight smile and kind thought to them through your own eyes. Once you get the idea move on to people. I don’t recommend practicing eye contact on animals, as they can be a lot trickier. Animals often use eye contact to establish dominance, so make sure the beast is tied up, or safely enclosed, if you insist in trying it out on your neighbor’s scary dog!
This stuff works! Eye contact really works well, but it is a skill which takes time to develop. Go carefully and don’t get carried away and scare people off by overdoing it.