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Eye Contact

A 54 year old man says:

I was just diagnosed with ADD. My problem is that I can or won't look people in the eye when I talk to them. How can I improve this character flaw?

Michele Novotni answers:

Many people have difficulties with eye contact, which is not a character flaw, but rather learned behavior. To learn how to establish better eye contact practice with people who you feel are safe and not likely to criticize you. Tell them what you are working on and ask them to give you feedback for short periods of time. Gradually improve your eye contact by prompting yourself to look at others whenever you are talking. It will help cue you to look at the person. Later, you can add looking at them while they talk.

Maintaining steady eye contact is different. You may look away now and then but try to aim for no more than about 25% of the time. If you begin the feel uncomfortable emotionally as you increase your eye contact, you may want to see a psychologist/counselor for emotional support.

Michele Novotni, Ph.D., is a psychologist and coach in private practice in Wayne, Pennsylvania.

This article is published by permission from ADDitude Magazine 2004. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part is prohibited. Subscribe to ADDitude online or via toll-free phone 888-762-8475.

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