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HeroOfHyrule
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15 May 2022, 9:43 am

Since I've started working I've noticed that I just can't make eye contact with anyone and that I intensely avoid even looking my coworkers in the face, to the point that people seem to notice and give me weird looks when I do that. It makes me viscerally uncomfortable to do so, and I am constantly overwhelmed because my workplace gives me sensory overload which just makes it worse.

Is there a way to make myself make eye contact/actually look at my coworkers, so I can seem less weird/rude? Or are there alternatives to eye contact that won't seem as rude as avoiding looking at them altogether?


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klanka
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15 May 2022, 10:30 am

Acclimatise yourself by glancing at someone's eyes. Then go for longer.



Joe90
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15 May 2022, 1:15 pm

Making eye contact when interacting with people comes naturally to me. I can't not do it. But making eye contact with passing strangers is an impossible challenge for me. I just can't bring myself to do it. Because eye contact is natural to me, I have to consciously avoid eye contact with passing strangers, which then makes me conscious of everything else I'm doing, which then feeds on my social anxiety and makes me not want to go outside at all, because of something as trivial as passing a stranger in the street is such a big challenge to me. When it's raining I like having an umbrella so that I can pull it down just enough to take passing people's eyes out of my view and I can feel relaxed. Even if they can see my eyes, as long as I can't see their's, even in my periphery, I'm OK.


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HeroOfHyrule
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15 May 2022, 1:25 pm

klanka wrote:
Acclimatise yourself by glancing at someone's eyes. Then go for longer.

I've tried this, but it doesn't make the viscerally uncomfortable feeling go away. I can only momentarily glance at someone's face before I need to look away.


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I use he/him pronouns.

I watch a lot of cartoons and anime. I also have a cat and a rabbit as pets. I like to learn + catalogue information about other organisms, especially rodents (+ related animals) and great apes.

I don't often respond to PMs, unless I interact with the person that's PMing me a lot on the forums.


Spark Brother
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15 May 2022, 2:57 pm

In my 20's I got pulled up at 2 different jobs for not looking like I was listening to people. "you're staring into space" and "you're looking around the room when we're talking to you" were the comments I got. I learned after that I had to at least give the impression I was looking people in the eye when talking to them but, to be honest, I always look at people's mouths when they speak with the odd glance at the eye area. seems to work just fine for me and no-one has commented on my lack of engagement since. my wife has always said that I sometimes have a weird, intense stare when I'm fully engaged in conversation with her though.



HeroOfHyrule
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15 May 2022, 3:14 pm

Spark Brother wrote:
In my 20's I got pulled up at 2 different jobs for not looking like I was listening to people. "you're staring into space" and "you're looking around the room when we're talking to you" were the comments I got. I learned after that I had to at least give the impression I was looking people in the eye when talking to them but, to be honest, I always look at people's mouths when they speak with the odd glance at the eye area. seems to work just fine for me and no-one has commented on my lack of engagement since. my wife has always said that I sometimes have a weird, intense stare when I'm fully engaged in conversation with her though.

I do glance at people's faces, and nod or say "Oh, okay/Yeah/etc." to affirm that I'm listening, so I thankfully don't think that people think I'm ignoring them (or at least no ones confronted me about thinking so yet), but my coworkers obviously still think my avoidance to look at them is odd. I've had people ask me if I'm okay a couple times, which is embarrassing.


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I use he/him pronouns.

I watch a lot of cartoons and anime. I also have a cat and a rabbit as pets. I like to learn + catalogue information about other organisms, especially rodents (+ related animals) and great apes.

I don't often respond to PMs, unless I interact with the person that's PMing me a lot on the forums.


HighLlama
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16 May 2022, 3:22 am

HeroOfHyrule wrote:
Since I've started working I've noticed that I just can't make eye contact with anyone and that I intensely avoid even looking my coworkers in the face, to the point that people seem to notice and give me weird looks when I do that. It makes me viscerally uncomfortable to do so, and I am constantly overwhelmed because my workplace gives me sensory overload which just makes it worse.

Is there a way to make myself make eye contact/actually look at my coworkers, so I can seem less weird/rude? Or are there alternatives to eye contact that won't seem as rude as avoiding looking at them altogether?


Can you wear sunglasses at work? That's what I do. It's because the light bothers me, but it helps with feigning normal eye contact. My boss knows about my diagnosis, so it's not an issue.



HeroOfHyrule
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16 May 2022, 6:52 pm

HighLlama wrote:
Can you wear sunglasses at work? That's what I do. It's because the light bothers me, but it helps with feigning normal eye contact. My boss knows about my diagnosis, so it's not an issue.

That would help, but unfortunately it's not really bright enough in the place I work to justify wearing sunglasses... I've worn them before though in public and felt more comfortable looking at people, so I'll do that more often in places outside of work.


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I use he/him pronouns.

I watch a lot of cartoons and anime. I also have a cat and a rabbit as pets. I like to learn + catalogue information about other organisms, especially rodents (+ related animals) and great apes.

I don't often respond to PMs, unless I interact with the person that's PMing me a lot on the forums.


IsabellaLinton
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16 May 2022, 8:45 pm

I remember being criticised at work because I didn't make eye contact. I heard about it from the time I was a teenager until the end of my professional career. It's frustrating. We shouldn't need to change our behaviour or feel the pain of eye contact just so others won't be uncomfortable. Our comfort matters as much as theirs, if not more.

I never tried faking eye contact, because it's both unnatural and scary to look at people or be seen. I wouldn't even want to learn how. Most of the time I don't even face people when we talk, so they feel like I'm ignoring them or not listening. In your case would you be willing to tell your colleagues you don't feel comfortable with eye contact? It's none of their business if you're autistic or not unless you want to share your private medical information, but you might consider telling a few colleagues that you don't like eye contact. No other details would be needed.

Another option would be getting Irlen lenses which would shield your eyes a bit without being sunglasses, but I have them and they don't make any difference regarding eye contact. They only make vision more comfortable, in general.



SabbraCadabra
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16 May 2022, 8:53 pm

HeroOfHyrule wrote:
Is there a way to make myself make eye contact/actually look at my coworkers, so I can seem less weird/rude? Or are there alternatives to eye contact that won't seem as rude as avoiding looking at them altogether?

I just do the best that I can manage, and I don't worry about what other people think of me...I know I have nothing in my power to prevent people from thinking I'm weird and quiet.

As long as you have good attendance and do really well at your job, most people tend to leave you to it.


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Magicklore
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16 May 2022, 9:57 pm

I try to either look at their foreheads or between the eyes for brief periods. Sometimes when I need sustained eye contact I try to remember what's behind the person talking and stare straight through them imagining the shelves or whatever is behind their head.. And maybe since people are asking you if you're okay it has more to do with posture? So try to look up more, even if it's not at faces, and don't let your shoulders slump too much so you don't look sad



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16 May 2022, 10:55 pm

You could try looking at their noses and they would think you were making eye contact

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Sarahsmith
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16 May 2022, 11:53 pm

Weird. I never had a problem making eye contact with most people. Even intimidating people I can make eye contact with. It’s just certain people I just can’t and I’m not sure why.

Yes staring at mouths is what I do instead of eyes. It seems to work well enough.



Noamx
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18 May 2022, 2:55 am

Despite my asperger syndrome, I learned the reason I dont make eye contact sometimes is because I become nervous with strangers. When you become nervous, you lose focus on the conversation and that can cause you to lose eye contact. Sometimes, not always, the solution would probably be to be comfortable with the person you talk to. After that, you become less nervous and can make eye contact easier. You might still not make eye contact, but it will help you do that easier, and you make eye contact more frequently like that.

Also, when other people notice you dont make eye contact, they might consider this rude. If you want to give a good impression to others, you must make eye contact. In the past, I had no idea they thought I was rude just because of this. I only realized this later.


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sandbox1234
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19 May 2022, 2:29 am

Do what others said re eyes and forehead...but also practise outside of work. Try it with the coffee person when you buy coffee or shop person when you buy anything really.

The other thing that you can do is be honest with the people around you. Send them an email and explain your condition. Explain that you're not being rude but these are some of the challenges you face. You will be surprised how welcoming and accepting people are when they understand what's going on or when you open up to them with a vulnerability.

I am (apparently) NT and I have so many issues. NT people face so many social challenges too and if they're not social they're mental ones.