Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Comfort Challenges: Learn to Eye Gaze

The 4-Hour Workweek Assignment (2 days):
  1. Focus on one eye and be sure to blink occasionally so you don't look like a psychopath or get your ass kicked.
  2. In conversation, maintain eye contact when you are speaking. It's easy to do while listening.
  3. Practice with people bigger or more confident than yourself. If a passerby asks you what the hell you're staring at, just smile and respond, "Sorry about that. I thought you were an old friend of mine."
First, there are a couple problems with this assignment
  1. It's for males only. I would not advise that females do this. A lot of people did look quite angry that I was staring at them and some people, especially in LA, are crazy. Additionally, a man will probably take this as sexual interest.
  2. Don't do it in the gym locker room. Staring people in the face while they undress just isn't cool.
Also, this was a bit easier for me than I imagine the others will be. I'm a pretty big dude, so most people aren't going to try and confront me. Second, I've never really had a problem with this.

The hard part is fighting the reflex to look away. In LA, the first thing you learn is to not stare at people in the streets, so you quickly learn to avert your gaze. I am trying to unlearn that, even if it gets my shived. 

I don't really have much media to share on this because staring at people and taking photos/videos will probably get you arrested, but I have one interesting story.

I was sitting in a waiting room at the doctors office when this heavy (250-plus pounds), older (70 plus) gentleman sat down directly across from me, and our eyes locked.

Maybe he is doing these exercises, too because we just stared at each other for about 60 seconds before he finally said, "Wait, Wait, Wait" and looked away.

We struck up a conversation about waiting and that was that.

The rest of my experiences came on the street and in the gym. And Ferriss is right. It is much more difficult to look someone in the eye while speaking than while listening.

Next up is Learn to propose - offer a solution!


The Challenge is to stop asking for opinions and start proposing solutions. Begin with small things. If someone is going to ask, or asks, "Where should we eat?" "What movie should we watch?" "What should we do tonight?" or anything similar, do NOT reflect it back with, "Well, what do you want to ...?" Offer a solution. Stop the back-and-forth and make a decision. Practice this in both personal and professional environments. Here are some suggested lines:
  • "Can I make a suggestion?"
  • "I propose..."
  • "I'd like to propose..."
  • "I suggest that... What do you think?"
  • "Let's try... and then try something else if that doesn't work."
Did you do the Eye Gazing challenge? How'd it go? Any interesting stories?

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