But he was a well-liked sort of guy, so I thought about it, and started looking at people more while talking to them... or at least trying. But it still felt weird. And the thing was, they never seemed uncomfortable. I was always the one breaking eye contact first, because I had to. It started to make me think this eye contact thing really was more normal than I thought it was.
At this conference I went to this month, we talked a lot about connecting to people and how your coworker's won't bring their good ideas to the table if they don't feel listened to. We did this exercise where we paired off and told a partner eight things about ourselves, but at item four they were supposed to tune out. Look off into space, check their text messages, whatever. And it was surprisingly impossible to communicate. You'd try to go on autopilot and just keep saying the right words, but it was tougher than it sounded.
Since then I keep talking about eye contact with people and a weird number of them say that I should indeed work on the eye contact thing. The husband said I was good at making eye contact with him, but he noticed that I'm not like that with other people. humaazul even went so far as to state her theory that a disproportionate number of engineers have some form of asperger syndrome.
So I'm not totally sure what to work on, but I have noticed that when I make eye contact, other people make it too, and seem cooler about it than I do.