#BrainFactMonday โ€“ Why Do We Struggle With Eye Contact? And How To Get Better At It?

Posted on 23rd October 2023

Struggling to maintain eye contact with others, especially in high-stakes conversations ๐Ÿ‘€? You're not alone!

In this #BrainFactMonday we look at what happens in your brain when you establish eye contact and how to get better at that.

When eye contact is established, a complex dance unfolds within your brain. The dancers are:

๐Ÿง  ๐—ง๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐—”๐—บ๐˜†๐—ด๐—ฑ๐—ฎ๐—น๐—ฎ: the almond-shaped structure responsible for processing emotions, particularly the negative ones. During eye contact, the amygdala becomes more active, leading to heightened emotional awareness.

๐Ÿง  ๐—ง๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐—ฃ๐—ฟ๐—ฒ๐—ณ๐—ฟ๐—ผ๐—ป๐˜๐—ฎ๐—น ๐—–๐—ผ๐—ฟ๐˜๐—ฒ๐˜… (๐—ฃ๐—™๐—–): is responsible for decision-making, social behaviour, interpreting social cues and when you're looking into someone's eyes, it tries to assess their thoughts and emotions.

๐Ÿง  ๐—ง๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐— ๐—ถ๐—ฟ๐—ฟ๐—ผ๐—ฟ ๐—ก๐—ฒ๐˜‚๐—ฟ๐—ผ๐—ป ๐—ฆ๐˜†๐˜€๐˜๐—ฒ๐—บ: this system helps you mimic the expressions and emotions of the person you're conversing with, establishing a deeper connection, but at the same time it can make you feel like your emotions are on display๐Ÿ˜ฑ.

So, what does this mean to you? ๐Ÿค”

๐Ÿš€ ๐—ฃ๐—ฟ๐—ฎ๐—ฐ๐˜๐—ถ๐—ฐ๐—ฎ๐—น ๐—ง๐—ฎ๐—ธ๐—ฒ๐—ฎ๐˜„๐—ฎ๐˜†: understanding the brain's role in eye contact can help you navigate social interactions more effectively. It means the ๐—ฐ๐—ต๐—ฎ๐—น๐—น๐—ฒ๐—ป๐—ด๐—ฒ ๐—ผ๐—ณ ๐—น๐—ผ๐—ผ๐—ธ๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ด ๐˜€๐—ผ๐—บ๐—ฒ๐—ผ๐—ป๐—ฒ ๐—ถ๐—ป ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐—ฒ๐˜†๐—ฒ๐˜€ ๐—ถ๐˜€ ๐—ฒ๐—ป๐˜๐—ถ๐—ฟ๐—ฒ๐—น๐˜† ๐—ป๐—ผ๐—ฟ๐—บ๐—ฎ๐—น and rooted in our neurobiology. You can use this knowledge to:

๐Ÿ‘‰ ๐—–๐˜‚๐—น๐˜๐—ถ๐˜ƒ๐—ฎ๐˜๐—ฒ ๐—ฒ๐—บ๐—ฝ๐—ฎ๐˜๐—ต๐˜†: knowing that eye contact can heighten emotional awareness, be more mindful of the signals you're sending and receiving.

๐Ÿ‘‰ ๐—•๐—ผ๐—ผ๐˜€๐˜ ๐—ฟ๐—ฎ๐—ฝ๐—ฝ๐—ผ๐—ฟ๐˜: recognize that the mirror neuron system can work in your favour. When you maintain eye contact, you build a deeper connection with others.

๐Ÿ‘‰ ๐—ฃ๐—ฟ๐—ฎ๐—ฐ๐˜๐—ถ๐—ฐ๐—ฒ ๐—ฎ๐—ฐ๐˜๐—ถ๐˜ƒ๐—ฒ ๐—น๐—ถ๐˜€๐˜๐—ฒ๐—ป๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ด: The PFC's involvement underscores the importance of paying close attention to what the other person is saying. This leads to more meaningful conversations.

All in all, the best way to get better at maintaining eye contact and feel more confident in your interactions is through... practice! ๐Ÿ‘€

Start small, gradually increasing the duration of your eye contact with trusted friends or colleagues. ๐ŸŒŸ #PracticeMakesPerfect

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