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View Full Version : My eyes "wander" when I talk to people


Released
04-28-2011, 12:23 PM
Yesterday I was having a conversation with a colleague and my eyes were, as usual, looking up or to the side as I was thinking about what I was trying to say. The person I was talking to mentioned it and said that she had always wandered why I do that and who I was looking at. I replied (innocently and honestly) that it's how I think while I communicate. Apparently it's very distracting and/or unsettling to people I talk to. And come to think of it, it's very common for people I talk to to turn around and look behind them as though I was looking at someone. And apparently there are some who are experts at body language and who infer, correctly or incorrectly, all kinds of conclusions based on my apparently shifty eyes.

Is this something common to other INTJs? Do you look away while talking to people? Do people look behind you when you talk to them? And if it does happen to you, how do you cope? Do you explain that this is just how you are? Or do you make a conscious effort to not look away?

Beric
04-28-2011, 01:44 PM
I used to not make eye contact at all. Then I heard (at around 14 or so) that eye contact is extremely important. Now, if I'm listening to someone talk in a conversation, I look at them dead in the eyes (almost Aspergers-like). They're always the first to break contact. I actually stare at their nose, or between their eyes. I frequently don't see the person I'm looking at, but more the general outline of their body.

If I'm talking, it all depends on what I am talking about. I NEED to thing while I'm talking, as it doesn't always come natural. Sometimes, while I'm talking, I'll stare at the person but not even see them, being deep in thought. Other times, yes, like you, I'll stare at something else. Looking up and to the right is my most difficult time (when I'm feeling sentimental). One of my college counselors commented to me a while back about this, and asked me why. I kind of vaguely responded about "thinking", etc.

EDIT: I'm also very strongly ADHD; not sure if that's an issue here.

catzmeow
04-28-2011, 01:46 PM
My eyes wander constantly (I have terrible ADD). My co-worker recently asked me if I was an Aspie. I also tend to stare at people while thinking about something else entirely. Apparently, I will be looking at someone, but not even realize that what I'm doing is considered staring.

True Rune
04-28-2011, 02:23 PM
I look around and my eyes wander, but nobody's ever bugged me about it so it's gotta be an acceptable level.

YellOMod3lChiK
04-28-2011, 02:55 PM
I tend to not make eye contact... I don't know if it's an insecurity or whatnot, but I find it sometimes makes the conversation awkward.

Then again, maybe I'm just awkward..

Still Standing
04-28-2011, 03:00 PM
I always look at people in the eyes when they talk to me, but I look away when I'm the one talking because I can't concentrate on what I'm saying when I look at them. And I don't have ADD or Asperger's or anything.

Reddkatz
04-28-2011, 03:52 PM
I still have a little problem with maintaining eye contact, but I think it's more of a cultural thing on my part. I was trained at an early age not to stare at people because it was rude. Asian people don't like being stared at. I used to get yelled at as a kid for staring at someone. Oh and we used to have a saying if we caught someone staring at us "Wat? You got eye problem??"

So as an adult if I have to maintain eye contact I look at them, but then not really look at them. I try to keep my eyes at where they think I am actually looking at them. I actually look at the wall in the background or something that is at their eye level so I am not really looking at them.

Hydro
04-28-2011, 04:16 PM
Forget about all that ADD, ADHD, Asperger and other rubbish! :angry:
Eye movements during thinking are absolutely normal. It supports your internal thinking!

NLP uses this to get a better understanding of what people are currently thinking and you would be amazed what you can read out of those eye movements! It can become a very powerful tool when communicating with others because you have perfect knowledge of the status of somebody else’s thinking process.

Read this (it starts in the middle) if you want to know more about it: To view links or images in this forum your post count must be 2 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.

You can even deeply disturb somebody when you purposely disrupt those eye movements during someone’s thinking process and play with it. I think this is how Derren Browns "train of thought" (To view links or images in this forum your post count must be 2 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.) works.

Tref
04-28-2011, 07:03 PM
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Released
04-28-2011, 08:54 PM
It's really interesting that I'm not the only person who experiences this!

I understand that the way the eyes move can reveal this or that, but wonder if it's different for us INTJs. Looking at the image above, perhaps the way that INTJs "construct" conversation or thoughts is similar in form to the way most people "construct" lies or avoid interpersonal contact. Hence we're perceived as behaving in a way that is not consistent with how we're really thinking.

shivasprogeny
04-28-2011, 09:24 PM
I used to not make eye contact at all. Then I heard (at around 14 or so) that eye contact is extremely important. Now, if I'm listening to someone talk in a conversation, I look at them dead in the eyes (almost Aspergers-like).

Same here. I know I'm a generally passive person, but eye contact is one thing I've learned to do to appear more assertive in conversation.

XFire35
04-29-2011, 04:44 AM
I dislike maintaining eye contact - I can only do it when someone else is talking, otherwise my eyes and head are all over the place.

DeaconSyre
04-29-2011, 05:04 AM
I find maintaining eye-contact for long periods of time distracting. I get a similar sensation while driving. If I don't have something else going on in the car then I get distracted too easily.

Then again I've also noticed that when I'm trying to take in the most amount of visual information at once I don't look at a specific point I just grab the whole image and do the image break-up in my head. Not sure what that's all about but it helps with target tracking in games.

Hobos Bindle
04-29-2011, 06:34 PM
My default is eye contact when listening to details I will soon forget or am not processing (like the Royal Wedding chatter today). When thought is necessary, I break eye contact immediately when considering alternatives (viewing the totality of the situation/problem) and either close my eyes entirely, or look up and to the side. I go back into eye contact when trying to explain my thoughts to the listener. Those that know me well (coworkers) know i'm in deep thought and they don't distract me while i'm in this mode of consideration. I have never heard anyone tell me this is strange yet (but I am in a position of authority and they may just not want to potentially "embarrass" me. THe reality is I would "try" to explain how I think and am not bothered by people questioning my plentiful quirks).

Zsych
04-29-2011, 06:48 PM
I'll maintain eye contact normally, but if I'm thinking quickly my eyes dart around (reflecting accessing different parts of the mind)

Still Standing
04-29-2011, 07:28 PM
I believe the image above applies to the thought process before the person speaks. I've seen several people do this and then look up at me while they speak. I wish I could do that but I find it too distracting.

mozartus
04-29-2011, 11:34 PM
I still have a little problem with maintaining eye contact, but I think it's more of a cultural thing on my part. I was trained at an early age not to stare at people because it was rude.

It's like this with my Native American culture as well. I try to just watch their foreheads, but usually I end up staring at their moving mouth. Also helps that I have longer bangs that help shield my eyes -- it's difficult for me to not look around while they're talking.

Keitarou
06-03-2011, 05:34 AM
Eye contact feels extremely awkward. I prefer to talk to people sideways or at an angle, when we are both facing the same direction for example, rather than face to face.

I always analyze people, especially when talking to them. Their manner of speaking, body language, and subject matter. So looking at someone's eyes really distracts me, because I know they are doing the same. I realise that most people don't do that to the depths that an INTJ would, but nonetheless thinking about what is going on in their heads and how they might be perceiving me distracts me from the topic of the conversation. So of course, my mind works more freely if I'm not watching their eyes; if my eyes are wandering or mindlessly fixated on something else.

On the contrary, there are times when I will relentlessly look someone in the eyes without breaking contact. But that tends to happen when I am overly confident around someone or my intention is to stare them down. When I have a zero tolerance for BS.

Lastly, culturally or other wise, I find it impolite to look people in the eyes. If I respect someone I will avoid eye contact.

DrWin
06-03-2011, 09:11 AM
You just described me! I always look around when I am trying to think.

---------- Post added 06-03-2011 at 09:13 AM ----------

Sometimes I activly try to look at the person but it really hampers my thinking ability. It's not that I am uncomfortable with eye contact I just can't help it.

---------- Post added 06-03-2011 at 09:15 AM ----------

People do oftentimes ask me what I am looking at or turn to look. I just tell them that I am thinking. No biggie.

Seriously
06-03-2011, 09:41 AM
I make eye contact when the other person is speaking to me as long as I'm interested in what they are saying. My eyes tend to wander when I get bored or distracted. If I'm trying to make a point I will make eye contact for emphasis. Other than that I'm not really sure what my eyes do. I have been told I do a slight eye roll unconsciously when I think the person speaking is an idiot. ;D

green eyes
06-03-2011, 10:49 AM
I usually make eye contact (and often warm, enthusiastic facial expressions) the whole time, as a sign that I am engaged and interested (even when in my head all I'm hearing is "wah wah wah"). When I avoid contact, it's an inadvertent sign that I really, really want them to leave me alone.

Coralaisly
06-03-2011, 06:58 PM
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I've had people incorrectly accuse me of lying because of this. I draw, and since I'm not a huge fan of eye contact, I tend to pick objects aroung me to analze while talking. I recall having seen a moth fly near someone while I was talking to one of those kinds of people who watches those crime shows and when I glanced at the moth she raised her eyebrow and after some prodding, she tells me she thought I was lying because of where I glanced, and of course the moth was gone already :eyeroll:

HAL 9000
06-03-2011, 07:05 PM
I read somewhere that aversion to eye contact is a trait typical of N's.

Merak
06-03-2011, 07:22 PM
I've had people incorrectly accuse me of lying because of this. I draw, and since I'm not a huge fan of eye contact, I tend to pick objects aroung me to analze while talking. I recall having seen a moth fly near someone while I was talking to one of those kinds of people who watches those crime shows and when I glanced at the moth she raised her eyebrow and after some prodding, she tells me she thought I was lying because of where I glanced, and of course the moth was gone already :eyeroll:

Which is why I don't place much value in body language. Sure, there may be tendencies, but there are so many variables that I'm not sure how anyone could draw anything concrete.

Riversticks
06-03-2011, 07:42 PM
I try to start off a conversation looking people in the eyes but notice that I tend to watch their mouths more often, I think to help me understand what they are saying, like reading their lips. If I dont read their lips while they are talking to me I often have to ask them what they just said, usually because I started drifting off from the conversation. I hate talking on the phone due to not being able to see their mouths move and very easily drift off from the conversation.

I find that I do this even with my wife, we could start off a conversation and I'll end up having to ask her what she is talking about. She gets pretty frustrated with me about that. Although; I think she starts conversations with me half way through one of her own conversations in her head, just to get back at me.

Most of the time when I do look people in the eyes im not exactly sure which eye I should be looking at, the left the right or both, then I start thinking about that and stop listening to the conversation.

Shadizar
06-03-2011, 08:02 PM
I've been accused of staring at breasts, strange that the men don't complain when I stare at theirs... but if the person who's talking to me isn't holding my attention, my eyes first slide to their relaxed position (breast angle), after a bit I'll snap up and say "I got shit I gotta do, take care." Sometimes they'll manage to hold my attention, and I'll wind up watching lips; my favorite are thin lips, they're so expressive, and when they tremble... mmm... full lips are just kind of there, gorgeous if the mouth stays shut; and narrow mouths over wide any day, I don't like seeing wisdom teeth, or the holes left by them.

Alwards
06-03-2011, 08:10 PM
I`m mainly an auditory learning, so when listening it is my ears that are gathering info ... my head tends 95% to be toward the person and 15 secs a minute direct eye contact ... the other 45 will be around their face but my eyes will be visualising inwards etc - mmm I guess 15 secs a min I`m naturally exercising my eyes by glancing at something distant. I think also I can look, in an ok way, at but through someone`s eyes as I am listening to what said and registering my thoughts, and then say a third of that time I will have my eyes focused eye to eye.

---------- Post added 06-04-2011 at 01:12 AM ----------

mmm if the talk is silly or boring I wouldnt be in a situation where I`m sitting down with the person - I hate small talk so if it is impossed upon me my body language will tend auto to be away from the person ... naturally indicating that er I won`t be sticking around

creativestrike
06-03-2011, 09:55 PM
Eye contact is so distracting for me. If people want me to actually listen to them, I can't look them in the eye. Also, if I had been making eye-contact for a prolonged period of time (without noticing) and suddenly realize it, my eyes dart away haha, as if my eyes are like "whoa, sorry for staring."

---------- Post added 06-03-2011 at 08:57 PM ----------

I've been accused of staring at breasts, strange that the men don't complain when I stare at theirs... but if the person who's talking to me isn't holding my attention, my eyes first slide to their relaxed position (breast angle), after a bit I'll snap up and say "I got shit I gotta do, take care." Sometimes they'll manage to hold my attention, and I'll wind up watching lips; my favorite are thin lips, they're so expressive, and when they tremble... mmm... full lips are just kind of there, gorgeous if the mouth stays shut; and narrow mouths over wide any day, I don't like seeing wisdom teeth, or the holes left by them.

Staring it lips is supposedly a sign of sexual attraction ;) how many guys lips do you stare at? hehe

stealthfighter
06-04-2011, 09:23 AM
I have the same problem. For some reasons, my eyes can't get fixed when they have to be (especially in close conversations) and then somehow they would get fixed in another person inappropriately, inducing them to think I'm staring provocatively.

SarcasticVlad
06-04-2011, 07:55 PM
I don't make eye contact when I talk with people. Unless I talk with someone I really like. Which led some of my family members to believe that I lie a lot. That was an amusing situation.

Yardy
06-04-2011, 09:58 PM
People's facial expressions hurt and embarrass me. I have to avoid making eye contact with them to help dehumanize them, or I'll be unwilling to disagree with them/will not want to confront their feelings.

dontmesswithme
06-05-2011, 05:44 PM
My eyes wander when I talk to people, too. I have great difficulty making and maintaining eye contact. Also, my mind is a constant whirlwind of activity, although I look very calm on the outside. I often completely miss what people have just said to me.

John01
06-05-2011, 06:29 PM
I always try to maintain eye contact for most of the time during a conversation. When I become aware of my eyes drifting (usually because my thoughts are analyzing something that was just said, instead of continuing to follow the conversation), I try to return them. Sometimes, however, I drift into focusing on eye contact and ignoring the conversation. That's when I realize my gaze may become too intense.

If my eyes begin to wander, I feel it suggests to the other person that I'm not really listening to them. That's one reason it's important to me to maintain eye contact.

I personally don't like it when other people won't look me in the eye. It tells me they are not interested in what I'm saying and/or are not to be trusted. This is especially true when I meet someone for the first time, or I'm serving a customer in a service type setting.

When used to work at a cafe during the winter months, it would irritate me to no end to have a customer refuse to look me in the eye.

MartinH
06-05-2011, 07:36 PM
It's really interesting that I'm not the only person who experiences this!

I understand that the way the eyes move can reveal this or that, but wonder if it's different for us INTJs. Looking at the image above, perhaps the way that INTJs "construct" conversation or thoughts is similar in form to the way most people "construct" lies or avoid interpersonal contact. Hence we're perceived as behaving in a way that is not consistent with how we're really thinking.

Everyone is different, left handers usually have it reversed, but to use that stuff you have to calibrate - i.e. ask questions that need that type of thought to answer an notice where they look, or get really fast/unconsciously good at it and just note it during the flow of conversation.

We had another thread in the inline test forum about how you process, and pretty much all the INTJs came out with internal dialogue, so lots of internal talking, eyes to the side, long pauses (it's a slow way to process). Yes, normal. If you work with lots of INTJ/INTP types you get very used to it.

My company's MBTI would be INTP, we can have hour long meetings without any eye contact...

Shadizar
06-05-2011, 07:52 PM
Staring it lips is supposedly a sign of sexual attraction ;) how many guys lips do you stare at? hehe

I'm what you'd call hetro-flexible; given the RIGHT circumstances, I may swing the other way; it's a "politically correct" way of saying, "homosexuality is ok in my books". Given the circumstances, I have little issue with making other men feel... objectified, sexualized, dominated; I will admit, that there is one man - a family friend - who I would consider dominating over me; and yes, he has thinner lips than I do.

Alphemo
06-05-2011, 11:16 PM
Looking at the image above, perhaps the way that INTJs "construct" conversation or thoughts is similar in form to the way most people "construct" lies or avoid interpersonal contact. Hence we're perceived as behaving in a way that is not consistent with how we're really thinking. That is quite the interesting hypothesis you've got there... I tend to look up in either direction if I'm not looking into someone's eyes (most common, if they're a friend) or at their ears or cheeks.

MissMeg
06-06-2011, 08:18 AM
My eyes also wander when I'm talking to someone. Usually I'll notice and feel like they might think I'm being rude so I'll look back at them, but it never usually lasts very long. It's almost like I need to listen to them with one part of my brain and be looking at other things with another part in order to stay focused.

lifesight
06-06-2011, 11:00 AM
When people talk to me i often have direct eye contact which they always appreciate, but when i am talking my eyes wander often, basically because while talking i get my thoughts organized and kind of sink into my own world of thoughts.

therrirl
06-06-2011, 01:17 PM
Interesting that the postings seem to show that INTJ's tend to avoid eye contact whether cultural or other for reasoning. I get the feeling that we in general do not like opening ourselves up to this type of intamacy? I do wonder if this same restriction on eye contact is also kept in the private setting with the SO or such?

deckard
06-06-2011, 01:27 PM
I do the same. It depends on the situation. Sometimes I will make a conscious effort to look into their eyes, if I notice they are very engaged. I can't hold it for long periods though and don't really think on it too much to report back to you here.

I'd imagine people are left with all sorts of impressions of me based on my body language. I used to have social anxiety but now my coping mechanisms are such that I can go into any situation unaffected. I guess at some point I just stopped caring what impression people got, because I am who I am and for whatever reason, that's been a mystery to most. My guess is that will always be the case. Not an easy person to read.

Shadizar
06-08-2011, 01:46 AM
It may have something to do with that whole "eye is the universe" mantra, and when we see the dull opaque cow eyes of the sheepoeple yapping at us, we lose interest in their babble. Honestly, tell us something that isn't inane loop mantra.

bethkens
06-08-2011, 09:18 PM
I never realized that I didn't do eye contact until I was 15 and this boy asked me why I never look at people when I talk to them. Eh, eye contact makes me nervous. I can't think when I'm nervous. It's easier to stare off into nowhere when I'm trying to get all my thoughts arranged properly.