The exercise of locking eye to eye with a complete stranger, intentionally, and holding until they break away, is one of those activities that will help you gain self confidence as you are introduced to the shockingly ignored concept that everyone else is just as insecure as you are. As you do this, you will find that your self confidence will immediately receive a boost of energy.
Timothy Ferris in The Four Hour Work Week, Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, And Join the New Rich, talks about this as one of those critical exercises that will help you build self confidence and move you closer to greater success in the pursuit of your Entrepreneurship.
Sitting in Hava Java today, as people meander through, I have taken a few opportunities to lock eyes with people as they walk in. Most people are immediate in how quickly they divert their gaze somewhere else, for who knows what reason. Perhaps they don’t like looking at me, perhaps they’re insecure about being looked at, or perhaps they are just in their own world and don’t notice. A large percentage of the people walking in have sunglasses on, so it makes the exercise impossible, but for those who come in sporting shiny, exposed, eyes, little do they know the trap that I have set.
I’ll have to admit, it’s extremely difficult to fight the temptation to look away first, but so rewarding when you conquer the fear. Don’t try doing it with the same person twice, unless you intend to start up a conversation, which wouldn’t be that bad anyway would it? And, if someone feels uncomfortable enough the first go-around to approach you and ask you what your problem is, as Ferris states, just tell them “I’m sorry, I thought you were an old friend of mine.”
My recent encounter was with a woman who walked in. I locked on to her eyes and held. It was difficult, but I did it, and she looked away. It was at this point that I continued to hold the look. What happened next was completely unexpected. She looked again, and then I could really tell she was nervous. I could also tell that she understood that I had established the upper hand in the exchange and I was the initiator, which boosted my confidence and gave me options.
I will continue to exercise this, and I would recommend that you give it a shot too! It’s a great feeling to overcome insecurity when you realize you’re not the only one who feels insecure.