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When someone is talking to you is it better to look them in the eyes or at their lips

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    For some reason I freak out sometimes when people look me in the eyes so I look away. I'm not socially inept, i'm qualified and have no condition which would cause this reaction. I don't know what the issue is, I can always look people in the eye when talking to them, but sometimes struggle when vice versa.

    I was wondering whether it's acceptable to look at someones lips when they talk instead as I may come across as rude if I stare away form them like i'm uninterested in what they have to say. And considering i'm starting a job soon where customer service skills are required i need to brush up my social conduct.

    Important point is it only happens sometimes, like I could have a completely normal conversation one day and not even think about eye contact, and the next day it might happen. Though the more I think about it the worse it gets so then I will maintain eye contact excessively just to challenege myself. Though too much eye contact is bad too isn't it.
    Sometimes when I do this it's the other person that looks away awkwardly, then afterwards I can see them trying analysing me, and i'm not bragging when I say this but because i'm quite good looking I think girls may get the idea that i'm attracted to them (I can tell by their expressions that's what they assume). Besides this occasional inability to maintain eye contact and the fact i'm a little shy, i'm completely "ok". I don't get it.
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    I always look at the eyes. It would feel weird if I'm talking to someone and he/she is always looking at my lips - it can be interpreted in the wrong way, you know. Anyway, if you're going to start a job and will have to deal with customers... don't look at their lips! but their eyes.

    I guess everyone is different though.
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    You need to relax, take a deep breath, and let girls assume w/e they like dude. Eye contact and a calm, relaxed facial expression/demeanour are strong confidence markers

    Eye contact can be distracting however, if I'm having a conversation that requires a good deal of thinking/recalling certain things I'll tend to look all over the place as I talk

    People who struggle with eye contact may do so because of low self esteem, social anxiety or cognitive deficits (like myself - maintaining eye contact and engaging a person is energy intensive)

    I sometimes revert to lip-reading if I can't hear the other person too easily and/or I'm particularly low on mental energy. It's also a good flirtation technique to glance down at inviting lips occasionally
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    I've quite piercing eyes and a lot of people tend look away from me when they talk, it's ok but I would avoid looking at their lips, try their nose or the spot between their eyes I find this acceptable lol
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    I wouldn't say looking at someone's lips is rude, my sister is Deaf and lip-reads so will always look at people's lips in a conversation. As far as I know she's never been told that it's rude and no-overs reacted in a way that would suggest that.
    It's something that I pick up on so often do as well, and have also never got a bad reaction.

    I suppose it depends on the person though
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    (Original post by HighRoller)
    For some reason I freak out sometimes when people look me in the eyes so I look away. I'm not socially inept, i'm qualified and have no condition which would cause this reaction. I don't know what the issue is, I can always look people in the eye when talking to them, but sometimes struggle when vice versa.

    I was wondering whether it's acceptable to look at someones lips when they talk instead as I may come across as rude if I stare away form them like i'm uninterested in what they have to say. And considering i'm starting a job soon where customer service skills are required i need to brush up my social conduct.

    Important point is it only happens sometimes, like I could have a completely normal conversation one day and not even think about eye contact, and the next day it might happen. Though the more I think about it the worse it gets so then I will maintain eye contact excessively just to challenege myself. Though too much eye contact is bad too isn't it.
    Sometimes when I do this it's the other person that looks away awkwardly, then afterwards I can see them trying analysing me, and i'm not bragging when I say this but because i'm quite good looking I think girls may get the idea that i'm attracted to them (I can tell by their expressions that's what they assume). Besides this occasional inability to maintain eye contact and the fact i'm a little shy, i'm completely "ok". I don't get it.
    This is quite funny, I have the exact opposite problem! I stare into people's eyes relentlessly when they're the ones talking, but as soon as it's my turn to talk, I just can't look at them anymore. I'd say mine is a bit more manageable, though, because I just look all over the place and gesticulate and occasionally look back into their eyes for a split second, and it just seems like I'm agitated and passionate about the subject (admittedly, might seem a bit strange if we're talking about cooking dinner or something).
    And same problem, when guys notice I'm not looking them in the eyes, they automatically assume it's because I'm nervous around them because I'm so obviously in love with them. It's a bit annoying, but I've learnt to deal with it.

    As far as the lips go, I've tried that - it actually makes them think you're even *more* into them, and probably thinking about kissing them. So maybe not the best idea.
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    *Sigh* it just happened again. Went to pizza hut and when taking the order the girl spoke and looked me straight tin the eye and I just freaked and looked at my plate. And when I looked up she was taking down the order and didn't even look up at me again even once but had no problem looking and smiling at the others.

    God, wtf. Would explaining my situation to my doc and getting hold of valium or something like that be of any use in this situation.
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    I usually look at their eyebrows. You're still looking at their eye area but you're not staring into their eyes :p:. If someone looked at my lips I might think I had something on them!
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    (Original post by HighRoller)
    *Sigh* it just happened again. Went to pizza hut and when taking the order the girl spoke and I just freaked and looked at my plate. And when I looked up she was taking down the order and didn't even look up at me again once but had no problem looking and smiling at the others.

    God, wtf. Would explaining my situation to my doc and getting hold of valium or something like that be of any use in this situation.
    I get this a lot, and I know what you feel like. It doesn't happen with everyone, but it happens with certain people. I have no idea what it is.
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    (Original post by Kage)
    I get this a lot, and I know what you feel like. It doesn't happen with everyone, but it happens with certain people. I have no idea what it is.
    Yeah same here. Maybe there something to the whole people with "piercing eyes thing".

    She was quite chubby (not that it's a problem) so she probably thought I was being arrogant or condescending by not looking at her
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    (Original post by HighRoller)
    Yeah same here. Maybe there something to the whole people with "piercing eyes thing".

    She was quite chubby (not that it's a problem) so she probably thought I was being arrogant or condescending by not looking at her
    I work at a till at work, and find this happens quite frequently, and I struggle to look at them when handing the money to them, when they say bye.

    I much prefer it for me to say hi to them with a glance, and then when handing the money over and saying thanks, for them not to look back at me.

    When that happens, I can't help but feel awkward sometimes. It happens with both guys and girls with me, which makes things very awkward indeed at times.
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    I'm not really that great with maintaining eye contact and it makes me want to look away too, but then I'd feel kind of weird if they just stared at my lips the whole time (unless they were deaf)

    I'd go with eyes, but just not a full blown stare!
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    (Original post by HighRoller)
    God, wtf. Would explaining my situation to my doc and getting hold of valium or something like that be of any use in this situation.
    Don't even consider going on drugs just because you don't like looking people in the eye. It's better to avoid eye contact than be staring spaced out at people because you're drugged up.

    I really struggle with eye contact too. I think when having a conversation it is not normal to stare into someones eyes, it can come across as intimitidating and people get uncomfortable. I tend to glance at their eyes then their shoulder then back again then their mouth then back etc. I also do this thing where I am looking at them but not really seeing them, I sort of look at their eyebrow or something. I'm quite a confident person until someone meets my eyes and then I just fill up with fear.
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    eyes unless your deaf, if deaf definatly mouth.
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    I prefer to look people in the eye if I can, but since I'm hard of hearing I sometimes have to lip-read.
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    I thought looking at someones lips while talking to them means you want to kiss them?!
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    I have quite blue eyes, so people tend to look away, but i am deaf which means i rely on lipreading all the time. Luckily, people are understanding and dont take it the wrong way!
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    don't look at the lips, it can be taken in the wrong way, look at the eyes for 5 seconds then look away and then look again at them and then look away and then look at them again for 5 secs and continue
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    I would say eyes tbh but I myself always struggle to maintain eye contact unless that person is attractive lol
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    I have this problem, but like yourself it's not something that I experience with everyone. I've also noticed that when I do make eye contact with such people, I tend to lose focus in the conversation/topic at hand when I, or the other individual is speaking.

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Updated: March 15, 2012
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