Eye contact with strangers

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Zarq
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Re: Eye contact with strangers

Postby Zarq » Thu Oct 14, 2010 7:20 pm UTC

SlyReaper wrote:I'm usually fairly happy to look around at the various faces of strangers in a crowd, but I have more trouble keeping eye contact with people I'm actually talking to. I have to fully concentrate on maintaining eye contact, which means I'm not listening very attentively to what they're saying.


This. Kind of.

podbaydoor wrote:Basically, my reaction to accidentally making eye contact with strangers is to flatten my metaphorical ears. I'm not sure why I automatically feel hostile and hunted. If the person follows with a smile, the feeling goes away and I smile back, but otherwise it's just super awkward.


Sorry.

I really should try making "smile" my standard go-to when making eye contact by accident, instead of thinking "Right, this is where I should smile. Ah crap, too late"
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Re: Eye contact with strangers

Postby Oregonaut » Thu Oct 14, 2010 7:39 pm UTC

Mostly people look at me like they *really* want to be somewhere else right now. When I smile, to reassure of my friendliness, they get concerned because my default face is *Mask of Death*. When I nod to the men I walk past, or tip my hat to the ladies I walk past, I get confused looks or pleasant exchanges depending on which city I'm in.
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Re: Eye contact with strangers

Postby she-ra » Fri Oct 15, 2010 9:41 am UTC

Hmmm... I think it depends on the situation quite a lot. If I am somewhere fairly quiet and one other person walks by I will often look at them and smile but if it is somewhere crowded and an endless stream of people are walking by I don't bother to make eye contact with all of them. It also depends on how much of a dwaal I'm in, sometimes I just don't pay attention to other people. For example every Sunday I go for a walk with my family on a route that is fairly popular. The mountain etiquette dictates that you say 'Morning' to everyone you walk past but I will often do so while barely glancing at them. (I live in fear of walking past casual acquaintance on one of these walks and accidentally ignoring them)
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Re: Eye contact with strangers

Postby SecondTalon » Mon Oct 18, 2010 4:44 am UTC

Oregonaut wrote:Mostly people look at me like they *really* want to be somewhere else right now. When I smile, to reassure of my friendliness, they get concerned because my default face is *Mask of Death*. When I nod to the men I walk past, or tip my hat to the ladies I walk past, I get confused looks or pleasant exchanges depending on which city I'm in.

Sounds like you need to learn how to fake a smile.
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Re: Eye contact with strangers

Postby Oregonaut » Mon Oct 18, 2010 2:52 pm UTC

Hehehehe....awesome comic, the "How to pronounce Oregon" is spot on.
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Re: Eye contact with strangers

Postby AngrySquirrel » Tue Oct 19, 2010 9:07 am UTC

I like getting eye-contact with people. I tend to forget about social etiquett and just stare at people at times. Sometimes people get mad, often people get nervous and sometimes they smile. I like the ones that smile.
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Re: Eye contact with strangers

Postby tckthomas » Tue Oct 19, 2010 9:32 am UTC

kernelpanic wrote:
TaintedDeity wrote:Making eye contact with small children is a good way to keep them quiet when they're screaming on buses. It shocks them.

It works, but by far the best way is to kneel down to their height, talk very quietly in a friendly but neutral voice, while looking between their eyes and nose. Its so terrifying that they shut up, stay still and don't complain for about 15-30 minutes. Sometimes it even works with older kids, up to about 14, older than that and you have to talk in the "I control you because I could kill you if I so wished" voice and look at their eyes, but focus your sight into something that is about 10 cm inside of their head. The problem is the voice, as young kids are good at searching for anger, which you do not want, and with older ones, you must have a hint of justification in your voice (only there - you don't need to be, and very likely aren't, able to literally kill them)

All this was taught to me by a teacher who I saw calm down animals and humans with his sight, shortly before retiring.


Congratulations kernelpanic, you have included such a detailed post that I got incredibly freaked out. I don't know why, but I think its because somebody did that to be before, and the "10 cm" hit the spot and I felt the shock. Good job freaking me out.

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Re: Eye contact with strangers

Postby joy » Tue Oct 19, 2010 6:33 pm UTC

You know that moment, when you are walking to work, and two blocks away you see someone you know. Crap, now it's too far to say "hello" and an awkwardly long time to by looking at each other, especially if they are only a professional acquaintance. That's when I welcome a stranger to make eye contact with, but I'll also make eye contact with the sidewalk or clouds until reaching the greeting distance zone.
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Re: Eye contact with strangers

Postby podbaydoor » Tue Oct 19, 2010 7:18 pm UTC

Oh god, I hate that moment. Usually I'll look off to the side or pretend to check messages on my phone.
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Re: Eye contact with strangers

Postby Ubik » Tue Oct 19, 2010 7:32 pm UTC

Another variation of that happens in traffic lights when the other person stands on the opposite side and the lights are red for a small eternity. Then there's the opposite version, when you recognize someone you know too late so that you practically walk past them and only have time to mumble a "hi" to their back.

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Re: Eye contact with strangers

Postby electronic mily » Wed Oct 20, 2010 9:38 am UTC

Ubik wrote:Then there's the opposite version, when you recognize someone you know too late so that you practically walk past them and only have time to mumble a "hi" to their back.


This happens to me with unfortunate frequency, especially because I tend to zone out so the try to get my attention but by the time I see them they're usually right next to me and waving their arms. The worst so far was when I was walking directly at somebody I knew but couldn't see them because the sun was pointing from behind them. Said hi, walked by me too fast for me to explain that I'm not blind or completely oblivious.

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Re: Eye contact with strangers

Postby kernelpanic » Wed Oct 20, 2010 9:44 pm UTC

tckthomas wrote:
kernelpanic wrote:
TaintedDeity wrote:Making eye contact with small children is a good way to keep them quiet when they're screaming on buses. It shocks them.

It works, but by far the best way is to kneel down to their height, talk very quietly in a friendly but neutral voice, while looking between their eyes and nose. Its so terrifying that they shut up, stay still and don't complain for about 15-30 minutes. Sometimes it even works with older kids, up to about 14, older than that and you have to talk in the "I control you because I could kill you if I so wished" voice and look at their eyes, but focus your sight into something that is about 10 cm inside of their head. The problem is the voice, as young kids are good at searching for anger, which you do not want, and with older ones, you must have a hint of justification in your voice (only there - you don't need to be, and very likely aren't, able to literally kill them)

All this was taught to me by a teacher who I saw calm down animals and humans with his sight, shortly before retiring.


Congratulations kernelpanic, you have included such a detailed post that I got incredibly freaked out. I don't know why, but I think its because somebody did that to be before, and the "10 cm" hit the spot and I felt the shock. Good job freaking me out.

Yes, it's horrible when someone does it to you. On the other hand, it's very difficult to do. I've got problems with the voice, because if I need to use it, it's likely I'm angry and therefore it shows.
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Re: Eye contact with strangers

Postby Sharkie » Wed Oct 20, 2010 11:51 pm UTC

I don’t mind making eye contact when I have to interact with or talk to someone, but I don’t make eye contact with strangers I just happen to be passing by. Half of the time I’m just oblivious because I’m either deep in thought or rushing to get somewhere. The other half of the time I purposely avoid eye contact and look away immediately if I accidentally make eye contact. It feels like eye contact is meant to send a message (I recognize you, you’re cute, your hair looks strange, etc…) and since I'm awkward I can't imagine that my making eye contact with strangers would convey any good messages.

I guess zoning out and avoiding eye contact is bad because then I don’t notice friends unless they do something to get my attention, but sometimes it does discourage random annoying people from approaching me (like the people handing out pamphlets about God, or the ones who ask for money/signatures for whatever good cause they’re supporting).

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Re: Eye contact with strangers

Postby aaronasterling » Thu Oct 21, 2010 6:06 am UTC

Here on Maui It's considered rude to pass somebody by without acknowledging them in some way: usually a quick "howzit" with a smile. It's more rude to stare though. If somebody asks if they owe you money, it means they think they've been staring at you.

On the whole, I like it as I'm normally a pretty reclusive person so it sort of brings me out a little.
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Re: Eye contact with strangers

Postby sje46 » Thu Oct 21, 2010 8:04 am UTC

I didn't make eye contact until I was in 7th grade. I wasn't aware that eye contact was something people did, or were supposed to do, until my speech therapist told me. So I had to force my eyes to look at hers. She had blonde hair and blue eyes and made us use the word "sexy" as vocab, and I tell you, it was hell. It hurt, almost physically. I could barely stand it. My eyes had to skirt around hers nervously.

I became a bit obsessed with the topic shortly after that. There was this whole dimension of communication I did not know about previously. For the next few years I would practice it on people, and quickly dart them away. I would look up the topic in psychology books at the library at high school. There wasn't that much information. I couldn't (and still don't) understand why I was so averse to them. When TV characters talked I would study their eyes very carefully, judging how long they lingered, how their eyes would dart to the other person's left, then right, then left. It depended a lot on intimacy. I became kinda jealous when I watched other people make eye contact, because that was a tool they used that I simply didn't have because I was different.

If you want to know what it felt like for me to make eye contact, it was like physical pain, yes, but also, mentally, I feel like the other person was peeping into my soul, which severely unnerved me. I didn't want people to know inside me. So I looked away. I got better though, because when I did it, I felt happier, and almost flirty. I didn't do it with guys, because it made me feel gay (still does, a little), but I would purposely make eye contact with girls...made me feel flirty. And little kids, because they're smaller and won't judge me as much...or something?

I did and still do hate making eye contact with older people, and with blue eyed people. I'm very serious about this. Blue eyes just pierce into you.

I hope people don't think I'm sketchy...I really wish I could make eye contact better. I think I'm passable, but I'm not sure. Don't get offended when you're talking to me, and I look anywhere but at you. It takes a lot of energy to make eye contact, and when I make no effort at all as opposed to the little effort I do, that means I'm paying a lot of attention to what you're saying.
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Re: Eye contact with strangers

Postby Pinktits » Fri Oct 22, 2010 8:35 pm UTC

Certain cities/cultures are more conducive to eye contact, where as others seem to get weirded out by it. I'm talking about stranger-to-stranger, of course.

In Toronto, people rarely try to make eye contact, but in Montreal, and NYC i've noticed everyone does it, all the time.

Then there's also this scenario, where I'm reading a text message on my phone while walking that makes me laugh, or smile, and then I look up to see where I'm going and indadvertedly make eye contact with someone while laughing/smiling which makes it awkward (for me).

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Re: Eye contact with strangers

Postby Nordic Einar » Fri Oct 22, 2010 9:28 pm UTC

I make a point of making eye contact with everyone I can. I try to be very friendly, nodding and smiling at people or saying hello. Because if I don't make a conscious, unending effort to appear friendly and inviting I terrify everyone I meet.

Seriously. I can squeeze my ass into the tightest, most effeminate pants I can find, wear bright, festive colors and bedeck myself in rainbows and because I have (well groomed!) facial hair and a generally shorn head + piercings everyone thinks I'm going to mug them.

I've been at gay bars and had people assume I was there to rough them up. D:

I also try to hold people's gazes in conversation, staring into their eyes or face while we talk. It's a respect thing; especially with women. Probably comes from the people I grew up around.

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Re: Eye contact with strangers

Postby Essah » Sat Oct 23, 2010 1:52 am UTC

Nordic Einar wrote:I make a point of making eye contact with everyone I can. I try to be very friendly, nodding and smiling at people or saying hello. Because if I don't make a conscious, unending effort to appear friendly and inviting I terrify everyone I meet.

Seriously. I can squeeze my ass into the tightest, most effeminate pants I can find, wear bright, festive colors and bedeck myself in rainbows and because I have (well groomed!) facial hair and a generally shorn head + piercings everyone thinks I'm going to mug them.

I've been at gay bars and had people assume I was there to rough them up. D:

I also try to hold people's gazes in conversation, staring into their eyes or face while we talk. It's a respect thing; especially with women. Probably comes from the people I grew up around.


Admittedly I'm one of the people to get nervous about people in Leather Jackets with a face full of piercings... however i have only had pleasant experiences with people in that style. In fact i have friends using this "alternative" style. Dunno why the mugger image lingers still.

Eye Contact... sometimes i'm too tired but when I'm not i make an effort to smile to people... sadly danish people aren't very good at smiling back and way too often you get no reaction which is quite saddening.

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Re: Eye contact with strangers

Postby Fat Zombie » Sat Oct 23, 2010 3:16 am UTC

To be honest, I'd be more threatened by someone maintaining eye contact with me than by someone who wasn't looking at me.

I sometimes find it difficult to look at people's faces when I'm out and about. If my eyes meet with someone else's I panic.
...And before you ask: yes, I do like to listen to myself talk!

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Re: Eye contact with strangers

Postby Essah » Sat Oct 23, 2010 3:37 am UTC

Fat Zombie wrote:To be honest, I'd be more threatened by someone maintaining eye contact with me than by someone who wasn't looking at me.

I sometimes find it difficult to look at people's faces when I'm out and about. If my eyes meet with someone else's I panic.


you should probably work on that, maybe start with kind looking people and then slowly get used to eye contact with people.
not to be able to creepy stare people into the eyes but just to avoid panicking

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Re: Eye contact with strangers

Postby Fat Zombie » Sat Oct 23, 2010 12:46 pm UTC

Essah wrote:
Fat Zombie wrote:To be honest, I'd be more threatened by someone maintaining eye contact with me than by someone who wasn't looking at me.

I sometimes find it difficult to look at people's faces when I'm out and about. If my eyes meet with someone else's I panic.


you should probably work on that, maybe start with kind looking people and then slowly get used to eye contact with people.
not to be able to creepy stare people into the eyes but just to avoid panicking


I... I didn't mean I actively freak out when I make eye contact with people. I subconsciously panic because I don't know how looking someone in the eyes will go down with that person. Does it mean I'm being threatening? Creepy?

It's not like I want to start any sort of communication with the people I look at. That would be bad. Thus if I look away then I won't have to worry about them. The only problem I have then is working out where to look instead.
...And before you ask: yes, I do like to listen to myself talk!

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Re: Eye contact with strangers

Postby Kang » Sat Oct 23, 2010 2:41 pm UTC

Fat Zombie wrote:
Essah wrote:
Fat Zombie wrote:To be honest, I'd be more threatened by someone maintaining eye contact with me than by someone who wasn't looking at me.

I sometimes find it difficult to look at people's faces when I'm out and about. If my eyes meet with someone else's I panic.


you should probably work on that, maybe start with kind looking people and then slowly get used to eye contact with people.
not to be able to creepy stare people into the eyes but just to avoid panicking


I... I didn't mean I actively freak out when I make eye contact with people. I subconsciously panic because I don't know how looking someone in the eyes will go down with that person. Does it mean I'm being threatening? Creepy?

It's not like I want to start any sort of communication with the people I look at. That would be bad. Thus if I look away then I won't have to worry about them. The only problem I have then is working out where to look instead.

Buy a smartphone. I believe that's the exact reason those are so popular.

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Re: Eye contact with strangers

Postby Fat Zombie » Sat Oct 23, 2010 5:58 pm UTC

Kang wrote:
Spoiler:
Fat Zombie wrote:
Essah wrote:
Fat Zombie wrote:To be honest, I'd be more threatened by someone maintaining eye contact with me than by someone who wasn't looking at me.

I sometimes find it difficult to look at people's faces when I'm out and about. If my eyes meet with someone else's I panic.


you should probably work on that, maybe start with kind looking people and then slowly get used to eye contact with people.
not to be able to creepy stare people into the eyes but just to avoid panicking


I... I didn't mean I actively freak out when I make eye contact with people. I subconsciously panic because I don't know how looking someone in the eyes will go down with that person. Does it mean I'm being threatening? Creepy?

It's not like I want to start any sort of communication with the people I look at. That would be bad. Thus if I look away then I won't have to worry about them. The only problem I have then is working out where to look instead.

Buy a smartphone. I believe that's the exact reason those are so popular.


Hm. I don't have the cash. Maybe if I wore my gasmask out; I'd probably get a lot more stares, but if I darkened the lenses I wouldn't have to worry about making eye contact.

Nah, I don't have the balls to do that. And people don't like people obscuring their faces, for some stupid reason.
...And before you ask: yes, I do like to listen to myself talk!

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Re: Eye contact with strangers

Postby Kang » Sat Oct 23, 2010 8:34 pm UTC

Fat Zombie wrote:Hm. I don't have the cash. Maybe if I wore my gasmask out; I'd probably get a lot more stares, but if I darkened the lenses I wouldn't have to worry about making eye contact.

Nah, I don't have the balls to do that. And people don't like people obscuring their faces, for some stupid reason.

1.: You could try doing that with simple sunglasses, they are a lot cheaper, too. Also instead of a smartphone you could any old cellphone or even one of those old-fashioned printed on paper devices people used to carry... a map or a book or something.
2.: I'm getting slightly worryied about the frequency with which I hear people talking about gas masks lately. I'm feeling like I really should get one myself (a bit like the crossbow in that one comic).

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Re: Eye contact with strangers

Postby Venn » Sat Oct 23, 2010 10:22 pm UTC

I used to carry around a book and read it while walking around. (Hi, I'm lame.) That solved the whole eye-contact problem but introduced a host of others, so I broke the habit. These days my eyes tend to jump around a lot when I walk around (and I generally speedwalk), so I don't often make eye contact with strangers. When I do, I occasionally forget to smile and then five seconds after think, "Oh no, I don't want to let that girl think she looked weird or ugly or anything. Maybe I should smile at her. Oh, but she's crossing the street now. What do I do? Damn."

The ideal scenario: quick smile & then look away. I used to keep looking at people for about a second after the smile, but I got the feeling the combination of a smile + sustained eye contact creeps people out when it comes from a stranger.

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Re: Eye contact with strangers

Postby Fat Zombie » Sat Oct 23, 2010 10:25 pm UTC

I don't usually smile by default (my jowly face takes care of that) so I have to remember to smile when I end up looking at people. But yeah, I usually do the same thing as you.

Luckily, I live in England, so nobody likes looking at anyone anyway.
...And before you ask: yes, I do like to listen to myself talk!

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Re: Eye contact with strangers

Postby kernelpanic » Tue Oct 26, 2010 10:20 pm UTC

In school today, when we finished using it, I put a parabolic reflector on my head as a joke, and so did some friends. I went to another classroom to get something, with thee guys. Its amazing how people think it's OK to stare at you just because you happen to wear a funny hat.
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Re: Eye contact with strangers

Postby Fat Zombie » Wed Oct 27, 2010 12:57 pm UTC

I admit that I make exceptions for people who look odd. They's gettin' looked at.
...And before you ask: yes, I do like to listen to myself talk!

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Re: Eye contact with strangers

Postby Thurid » Thu Oct 28, 2010 1:39 am UTC

I think a lot of people look around at people while they're walking. When I stand around in the mornings before first period me and my friends usual notice people and will make comments about them, but that's just because we usually don't have much else to do and my school is populated by many interesting individuals. However I think its good to look around and notice people, so that you know whats going on, and making eye contact can be awkward but usually isn't if you know how to handle it.
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