I’ve always had a touch of social anxiety, but fortunately this is something that is easy enough to overcome with practice. Eye contact is one of the biggest parts of social interaction - you can even have entire conversations with nothing but eye contact.
One of the books I read to help me with eye contact was Michael Ellsberg’s The Power of Eye Contact: Your Secret for Success in Business, Love, and Life.
He has a few good exercises that can really improve your eye contact.
- When walking, look at people’s eyes just long enough to see their eye colour. Then move your eyes laterally
- Make longer eye contact with clerks and waiters
- Relax your jaw when smiling
- Look into your friend or partner’s eyes for 3 minutes (this one is a fun one)
- Look into your own eyes in the mirror
There’s been a few other things I’ve found that can help. A big one is working on your posture so that when you walk your eyes are level with the ground, so that you always look straight ahead. This has the benefit of helping you make eye contact right away, as well as giving you a naturally confident gait. Another trick that has worked well is to smile (as naturally as possible) when looking at someone’s eyes - it disarms the direct eye contact, and signals that you are generally interested in the person.
If you follow these tips and tricks, you’ll be able to convey more with your eyes than with your words!