#BrainFactMonday – 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 👀? 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:
🧠 𝗧𝗵𝗲 𝗔𝗺𝘆𝗴𝗱𝗮𝗹𝗮: 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.
🧠 𝗧𝗵𝗲 𝗣𝗿𝗲𝗳𝗿𝗼𝗻𝘁𝗮𝗹 𝗖𝗼𝗿𝘁𝗲𝘅 (𝗣𝗙𝗖): 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.
🧠 𝗧𝗵𝗲 𝗠𝗶𝗿𝗿𝗼𝗿 𝗡𝗲𝘂𝗿𝗼𝗻 𝗦𝘆𝘀𝘁𝗲𝗺: 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 display😱.
So, what does this mean to you? 🤔
🚀 𝗣𝗿𝗮𝗰𝘁𝗶𝗰𝗮𝗹 𝗧𝗮𝗸𝗲𝗮𝘄𝗮𝘆: understanding the brain's role in eye contact can help you navigate social interactions more effectively. It means the 𝗰𝗵𝗮𝗹𝗹𝗲𝗻𝗴𝗲 𝗼𝗳 𝗹𝗼𝗼𝗸𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝘀𝗼𝗺𝗲𝗼𝗻𝗲 𝗶𝗻 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗲𝘆𝗲𝘀 𝗶𝘀 𝗲𝗻𝘁𝗶𝗿𝗲𝗹𝘆 𝗻𝗼𝗿𝗺𝗮𝗹 and rooted in our neurobiology. You can use this knowledge to:
👉 𝗖𝘂𝗹𝘁𝗶𝘃𝗮𝘁𝗲 𝗲𝗺𝗽𝗮𝘁𝗵𝘆: knowing that eye contact can heighten emotional awareness, be more mindful of the signals you're sending and receiving.
👉 𝗕𝗼𝗼𝘀𝘁 𝗿𝗮𝗽𝗽𝗼𝗿𝘁: recognize that the mirror neuron system can work in your favour. When you maintain eye contact, you build a deeper connection with others.
👉 𝗣𝗿𝗮𝗰𝘁𝗶𝗰𝗲 𝗮𝗰𝘁𝗶𝘃𝗲 𝗹𝗶𝘀𝘁𝗲𝗻𝗶𝗻𝗴: 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! 👀
Start small, gradually increasing the duration of your eye contact with trusted friends or colleagues. 🌟 #PracticeMakesPerfect