How much eye contact should you give when talking to someone?

How much eye contact should you give when talking to someone?
How much is too creepy?
How little is too insincere?

@clementspio Wondering if you're giving too much or too little eye contact for comfort during conversations? The 50-70 Rule will be a good guide for better communication skills. Maintain eye contact 50% of the time when you are speaking, and 70% of the time when others are speaking and you're listening. 🙂 #LearnTok #FYP #communication ♬ 당 떨어지는 이 세상에 달콤한 미소를 주세요 – 정튠 Jungtune

I bumped into an old friend earlier in the day and we spent about 10 minutes talking just outside the food court.

It was a good chat just catching up and talking a little about the old days, but something about the interaction brought back weird feeling.

He has this habit of almost 100% eye contact every time he speaks.

And yes, he was like this since when I knew him,

I believe I’m the “normal” one, I looked away once in a while but whenever I glanced back again, yea his rather intense gaze locked onto me again and I must say, if I didn’t know this was his habit, I would have felt creeped out.

On the other hand, I do know people who rarely gives eye contact at all when talking!

I believe you know people like that, or maybe you are the one that’s feeling a little uncomfortable looking at the other person in the eye when talking.

Ultimately, it’s up to your own comfort level.

But, I can share some best practices on how much eye contact to give in a conversation so that you can be respectful, have a proper connection, and show the other party that you’re naturally present.

And this is the famous 50-70 rule:

When you’re the one talking, maintatin eye contact 50% of the time.

When you’re the one listening, maintain eye contact 70% of the time, because you want to show interest.

The follow up questions most people ask will be

  1. Where do we look, and for how long?
  2. Where do we look when not giving eye contact?

Of course, the best area to look a is, the other person’s eyes.

But if for some reason you find it uncomfortable to have direct eye contact, setting your gaze slightely above at their eyebrows or at their nose seems natural too.

And for how long each should each contact be? Typically it’s about 5-10 seconds but personally I feel it’s natural to look until the end of a point being made, or at the end of 1-2 sentences, where you’d receive some sort of acknowledgement from the person you’re talking to.

What about breaking away? What’s a good way to break away in the 50% or 30% of the time without seeming distracted, uninterested or rude?

The best way is to couple it with a thought process which we’d be naturally doing anyway, when we’re actively listening, or conversing.

Usually, we look up for a second or two when we’re trying to visualize what the speaker is saying,

And we look down when we’re trying to internalize what we just heard.

When we’re the one speaking, breaking the eye contact will be even easier because it’s only natural to look away to formulate our thoughts while speaking.

Just remember, to be careful of shifty eyes when talking or listening, if you don’t want to unintentionally seem untrustworthy.

Giving eye contact during conversations

So in summary, the 50/70 rule of eye contact during conversations.

50% when you’re talking – that is about 5-10 seconds of eye contact, and 5-10 seconds to breakaway to formulate your thoughts while speaking.

70& when you’re listening – that’s about 5-10 seconds of eye contact, and 1-2 seconds to breakway to register or visualize what you just heard.

This will help you build better rapport, be a better listener and ultimately answer the question:
How much eye contact should you give when talking to someone?

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