Without eye contact, I feel like I’m scrambling for understanding; my conversational footings are unstable …
… and so the conversation is stilted – without eyes I have no touch point; I have no indication of understanding or support; I have no connection.
But I do have mistrust – what aren’t you telling me? what are you hiding? what is not for public display?
When humans want to not expose something, they avoid eye contact. No-one anywhere, after crying in the work bathroom, exited to make eye contact with the next person that was passed. Head down, eyes to the ground, we exit hoping that if we don’t see anyone else, they won’t see us.
When I was little, and wanted to hide what I believed to be a grievous misdemeanour, eye contact was not an option. In answering a question I would concentrate my focus around knee-height – full-frontal eye contact would surely spill all of my truths.
And later, in my twenties (and to be honest even now) when I was (am) unsure of what I was doing, where I was going, who I was and what I wanted, eye contact was again avoided … if I can’t see you then you can’t see the me that I was fairly sure was not the perfect specimen of a human being. Eye contact would shine light on all of my self-diagnosed flaws.
There is a person in my life who does not make eye contact. To be precise, his eye contact is skittish – landing for a second then darting to the left or right. I have no faith in this person – no confidence in his leadership; there is a general sense of unease around him.
I have tried to coax eye-contact, reward it, act in spite of not having it … and yet … it is the eyes that, for me, create connection … and connection remains elusive.