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GypsyMoth

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
How do NTs feel when you don't look them in the eye (direct eye contact)?
@SRSAutistic asked, “How do NT’s feel when you don’t look them in the eye? (direct eye contact)” If it’s a peer-to-peer or comfortable family relationship, there’s no problem. If it’s a supervisor-to-subordinate or parent-to-child relationship, it could be a problem. (Although, supervisors tend to drive home points by not looking at their subordinates.) The problem they take from it is that you’re not listening. A lot rides on context, body language, physical position between the speakers, personal knowledge implicitly understood between the speakers, and the matter of what’s being communicated.

So, I’m not autistic—so far as I know—and I have trouble with direct eye contact. The biggest problem I have run into with people who make intense eye contact is that they use it as a way to establish their authority or to push around their agenda. That says more about the person than what’s being said.

As for myself, when I’m sharing something important or complex, in casual situations I generally tend to look off past the person’s left ear. I haven’t noticed if it bothers people or not. When I’m ready to listen, I glance at them, briefly making eye contact, as if to say ‘your turn’. But if the other person is saying something important, I tend to look slightly down and to the right—again, their left. If I want more time to think about what they’ve said before I reply—and it’s an intense conversation, and assuming I know the person—I’ll say, “give me a moment,” and may even shut my eyes. I just appreciate having that space in which to consider fully what’s being said before answering. Why is this not autistic? Maybe it is, except, if needed, I can maintain direct eye contact the entire time it’s appropriate. And in professional situations, I do.

I recently had an interview with a woman with whom I just could not mirror. We ended the interview while engaged in a very uncomfortable staring contest. (Although, I did try and look relaxed while smiling throughout it.) Surprisingly, she didn’t say I wouldn’t be hearing from them. But I called a few days later and withdrew my name. This would have been someone who would have been reporting to me and it just struck me as the wrong foot to get started off on.

I really appreciated what @Atrapa Almas had to say about eye contact being a multichannel skill. Thanks.
 

Judge

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
My parents emphasized to me at an early age that I had to look people in the eye when speaking to them or risk appearing as if I was lying or being evasive. So I had to learn to do this, and did.

Though even after all these years it still feels unnatural to do so. Oh well...
 

Atrapa Almas

70% INTJ + 30% ASPIE = 100% HUMAN
V.I.P Member
@SRSAutistic
I really appreciated what @Atrapa Almas had to say about eye contact being a multichannel skill. Thanks.

Well, you covered it quite well.

NT do suposse that everybody is NT, so the question would be what means if a NT dont look some other person to the eye.

Depending on the context it may mean:

- That the NT person is not listening. That is because they are not reading the face expressions so they are losing lots of the information. (For us it makes almost no difference because we cant get all the facial expresions and listen and think at the same time, but for them it makes a lot of difference).

- That the NT person feels shame or has way lower rank than the other NT. When NTs feel shame they tend to look down, and this is also a sign of "I will obey" and "I am not at the same level than you are". So when a slave talks with his master it doesnt look his master to the eyes or the face. The master read the slave face, but the slave is not allowed to read the master face. (Thats another mistake that we do when talking with our boss or superior like we do with everybody else). So this cover both shame and authority. You can see this also with dogs. Its also a good tactic to calm an angry person, because the person who looks down is acting submisive. It must match with the body language.

-That the NT person is not being sicere. When NTs invent something (or recall something) they tend to look to the side and up. So they also avoid eye conctact when they need extra concentration. For them is to invent-recall and for us is just for basic conversations.

-That the NT person lacks respect or is ignoring the other person on purpose. This can be seen when rebel teens have a talk with their parents. Some times they evade/ignore them in a clear way to show them lack of respect. Its part of body language. This is not only done with the eyes, but with the full body. They can be there, and even talk, but the body language indicate that they are ignoring the other person. Its algo common in criminal gangs.

So as I see it, the problem is that the NT assumes that our body language is equal to theirs to they understand our ASD body language like it was NT body language. I think in this cases its better to openly talk about it, because pretending to be an NT in this situations is like wanting them to think that you dont respect them.

So I say things like:

- Let me think about what you just told me to give you an aproppiate answer. And then I look to other place.

-Let me draw a scheme so I can explain myself better. And while I draw the concept its perfectly ok that Im not looking to them.

I also change subjet or ask for clarifications to gain time, or to answer things that can be understood in varius ways. A good thing of NT if that they are addicted to asume things. Its how they are wired. So if they say something with some sarcams that I dont yet understand, I can just smile and answer "I see". And the other person will think I understood and continue with the conversation so I have more time to think.

Hope it helps.

EDIT: I just saw I had already anwered and that you was thanking me @GypsyMoth, I wrongly understood that you wanted me to answer question. I did a mess.
 

GypsyMoth

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
Well, you covered it quite well.

NT do suposse that everybody is NT, so the question would be what means if a NT dont look some other person to the eye.

Depending on the context it may mean:

- That the NT person is not listening. That is because they are not reading the face expressions so they are losing lots of the information. (For us it makes almost no difference because we cant get all the facial expresions and listen and think at the same time, but for them it makes a lot of difference).

- That the NT person feels shame or has way lower rank than the other NT. When NTs feel shame they tend to look down, and this is also a sign of "I will obey" and "I am not at the same level than you are". So when a slave talks with his master it doesnt look his master to the eyes or the face. The master read the slave face, but the slave is not allowed to read the master face. (Thats another mistake that we do when talking with our boss or superior like we do with everybody else). So this cover both shame and authority. You can see this also with dogs. Its also a good tactic to calm an angry person, because the person who looks down is acting submisive. It must match with the body language.

-That the NT person is not being sicere. When NTs invent something (or recall something) they tend to look to the side and up. So they also avoid eye conctact when they need extra concentration. For them is to invent-recall and for us is just for basic conversations.

-That the NT person lacks respect or is ignoring the other person on purpose. This can be seen when rebel teens have a talk with their parents. Some times they evade/ignore them in a clear way to show them lack of respect. Its part of body language. This is not only done with the eyes, but with the full body. They can be there, and even talk, but the body language indicate that they are ignoring the other person. Its algo common in criminal gangs.

So as I see it, the problem is that the NT assumes that our body language is equal to theirs to they understand our ASD body language like it was NT body language. I think in this cases its better to openly talk about it, because pretending to be an NT in this situations is like wanting them to think that you dont respect them.

So I say things like:

- Let me think about what you just told me to give you an aproppiate answer. And then I look to other place.

-Let me draw a scheme so I can explain myself better. And while I draw the concept its perfectly ok that Im not looking to them.

I also change subjet or ask for clarifications to gain time, or to answer things that can be understood in varius ways. A good thing of NT if that they are addicted to asume things. Its how they are wired. So if they say something with some sarcams that I dont yet understand, I can just smile and answer "I see". And the other person will think I understood and continue with the conversation so I have more time to think.

Hope it helps.

EDIT: I just saw I had already anwered and that you was thanking me @GypsyMoth, I wrongly understood that you wanted me to answer question. I did a mess.
NP, @Atrapa Almas!

I got even more out of it the second time around! :D
 

hithere

Member
I have family members I suspect are on the autism spectrum and know are.

A child has told us that does not like looking people in the eye, is the worst when to stand in front of the class and the teacher has especially told this child it has to try to look it's classmates in the eye more. Straight away when learning of this my husband told the child to look at the wall further away and that nobody would notice the difference, that because of where the teacher would be positioned the teacher would not notice.

I've noticed a lot of times that my husband will sort of look at people but still not look at people as if he has an extra sort of "seeiable wall" in between, and he can smile and then I notice some people coming in closer. All this time before I have never heard him say anything about finding it unpleasant to look people straight in the eye; I know he will look at me, and will look me in the eye but more often I actually think I feel him looking at me. Many times I have caught him looking at me. He says he likes my reactions on things and find my face easier to tell than some others how I am feeling. Lots of times when we have been watching a movie I can feel his eyes on me and I will glance and see that he is looking at me.

Perhaps because I have some ways about me where I am introvert he will lots of times look at me as if he is trying to figure something out; could be something I said an hour or so before and where we misunderstood each other, and he still think it is not solved, and trying to get me somehow. He can then so and so longer continue suddenly where we left off or make a point. Throughout that time I can feel him watching me, could be me busy merely unpacking groceries.

Do you prefer looking at people when they are not looking you in the eye? Or you entirely will not look their way? Only curious. Is there something else you could advice a child besides looking at the wall?
 
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Owliet

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
I don’t really look at people full on, although I Went through a phase during therapy were I used to and the stare was pretty intense and uncomfortable for both me and the other person. Like with bare minimum blinking....I also got told that if I made eye contact then I was more approachable and less likely to be considered as lying. Basically people making assumptions about you if you don’t make some form of eye contact. So now I “make eye contact “ by pin pointing a point near a person (Usually near enough to their head without them being suspicious)and they think I am looking at them when I really am not. I also do this to my family too.
 

Progster

Grown sideways to the sun
V.I.P Member
Do you prefer looking at people when they are not looking you in the eye? Or you entirely will not look their way? Only curious. Is there something else you could advice a child besides looking at the wall?
It's the direct eye contac that's uncomfortable, I don't mind looking at people when they aren't looking at me, aren't making eye contact and their attention is focused elsewhere.

I often defocus my sight to look at people's faces, or look at their chin instead.
 

Outdated

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
Just a little side note, the rules of eye contact while talking can also be affected by cultural values.

With many traditional Australian peoples constant eye contact is a sign that you don't trust them and is very insulting. A brief contact when you first meet is appropriate but after that you mostly talk to their shoulder, occasionally looking them directly in the eye when you want to put emphasis on a comment.
 

Laughingowl1975

Well-Known Member
I usually make intermittent eye contact and focus on the nose or mouth region (it helps with following what they are saying as well), or I end up staring at some feature of the person (a necklace or a mole). I find the more I like or trust a person the more I can make eye contact also the further away they are the more I can use eye contact.
 

foliodoe

I'm living my whole life at once.
There's only a handful of people in the world I'm even comfortable looking at directly, let alone making eye contact... I don't know why it bothers me so much specifically, except that it makes me feel like I'm being too intense and aggressive by staring people down.

I adore eye contact with my favorite people, though... My two closest friends, my sister... I actually get warm, happy feelings looking at their faces and making direct contact.
 

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