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Is it considered rude to not make eye contact? Don't get me wrong, I could make eye contact while saying the order in a smooth & painless fashion. But now I realize that after instances I'll briefly describe below, I want to avoid eye contact with them and keep things 100% professional (literally 100%), for the following reason which I'll try to concisely explain: I noticed and have actually felt inside that making eye contact inevitably strengthens the connection between me and them, which I don't want to do and is not why I'm there. I don't want this connection or to become friends with them. I've now decided that realistically I'm really there for one strict purpose: to order the food, have it served, then eat my/our meal on the table in private peace.

I really dislike it when, for instance, at take-out places where I go in there by myself (~2 times monthly) or to the front-counter at Starbucks, the barista who takes my order, the waitress/waiter (who is new to me) who comes to my table, after asking the usual "How are you today?" (which I don't mind) and taking my order, she tries to get to know me more personally, asking "so, where do you go to school; what are you studying?; or "what are your plans for the weekend?". (From reading this a possible reaction of yours I think might be "relax dude, they're just superficial, kind-hearted questions. But no, they're not just superficial questions in many of these instances -- they're asked sincerely and intently.) Here's the huge reason I especially hate engaging in a 'personal' conversation with a waitor/waitress: Because the next time I go there -- say, 1 month later, if I get the same waiter/waitress or even happen to see them there and we make eye contact, it will be terrifyingly awkward (and this is rational awkwardness; please don't think "yeah well all this means is that you definitely suffer from SA then." It will be even more terrifying if the store at the time is completely quiet with no other customers there (ever experienced this? things are so much more intimate in this situation, aren't they.) In this second instance of seeing the same waiter/person from last time, inevitably the connection will want to pick up and develop further from where it last left off-- meaning it will try to grow deeper, e.g. "So, how are your classes (that you told me about last time) going; how was the movie ___?" And then the third time I go there even more intimate, then the fourth time, ugh! We aren't friends! We can be "friendly", sure, but being "friendly" does NOT (to me) mean getting to know the customer; rather it's smiling and making sure the order is completely perfect and that the customer doesn't have any problems with it once it's served.

Anyone else feel the same way I do about the entire above paragraph? Would be curious to any/all of your thoughts.

The same goes for the grocery store in the check-out lane: I hate the SECOND time I see this same check-out clerk with whom I willingly (and with a genuine smile on my face) engaged with in a conversation, where I asked them the same questions they asked me. In fact I've usually done a little bit more asking them of questions than they to me in these situations of the past.

So I'm curious to your thoughts on this topic. I know I asked more than one question above that relate to the big question "Is it rude to not make eye contact in these situations with these employees (i.e. waiter/waitresses, grocery clerks, retail store associates, etc.) who I may LIKELY run in to again and will remember me due to our recent personal conversations? The reason I ask is because I worry that I will come across as rude if I don't make eye contact when they ask me the initial "Welcome to ___, find everything okay?", and THEN they'll treat me as if I'm a bitter customer and/or gossip about me to their fellow employees. (Yeah I'm working on the skill of trying to stop caring if others judge us, I realize I have that issue and need to work on it).

Thank you in advance.
 

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I don't usually make eye contact with anyone. I don't want to. My agreement with myself that led to the steady decline of my SA is that I would no longer do anything I didn't want to. Life instantly got less stressful. Eye contact feels wrong and threatening. If I make eye contact it means you have pissed off or threatened me to the point I am debating the best way to do physical harm. I also fail to make small talk with most people. I hate small talk. It is reserved for those cases where I really do want to get to know someone and it's required to get conversations going. I don't want to know the people in the service industry that I deal with. I give 1 word answers or shrug until they shut up. I really don't care what they think or say about me. I'm not interested in being social with them and I will never have to hang out with them so their life, opinions, and actions do not matter to me.
 

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I don't know if it is rude (debatable, I'm sure), but I'd say you'll definitely be seen as rude by some of them. If you just don't want to talk to them though (perfectly understandable to me!!), I'm not sure what other option you have besides avoiding eye contact and giving abrupt answers to their questions.

If you're all smiles, eye contact, and conversation, they're going to think you like it and just do it more -- which is exactly what you don't want, so...
 

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Avoiding eye contact isn't rude per se, but I definitely wouldn't call it friendly. Why wouldn't you want to be on friendly terms with a waitress/barista/etc?
 

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Is it considered rude to not make eye contact? Don't get me wrong, I could make eye contact while saying the order in a smooth & painless fashion. But now I realize that after instances I'll briefly describe below, I want to avoid eye contact with them and keep things 100% professional (literally 100%), for the following reason which I'll try to concisely explain: I noticed and have actually felt inside that making eye contact inevitably strengthens the connection between me and them, which I don't want to do and is not why I'm there. I don't want this connection or to become friends with them.
Damn. I could have written this. I can't look at people in the eyes at work, either. I can't think if I look at them in the eyes. By looking to the side, I can think better and explain stuff to them. But I think you hit it on the mark. Part of the reason may be because I don't want any personal connection with them. That's very insightful. And no, I don't think it's rude. Looking at strangers in the eyes seems rude and intrusive to me.
 

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As a former cashier, I liked to greet the customer in the beginning. Then thats it with eye contact until the end of the order when payment occurs. However, I have social anxiety so that may be why I always preferred to do things this way.
 

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I would actually feel like I might be being rude if I insisted on making eye contact with all of these people. I started avoiding looking directly at females many years ago for the very reason that I was afraid they might be upset or offended. Now it's just habit. I'll look in a person's general direction. I might even look at their face. But I won't look most people in the eyes.
 

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I was at lunch w a friend of mine today, and noticed that the waitress kept asking her questions (what would you like, can I get you anything, etc), and not really looking at me when she spoke. I guess I hadn't started out making good eye contact, and likely had just put her off. I don't think she thought I was rude or anything, but I think I made her a bit uncomfortable.

I'm always friendly and polite when I talk to waitstaff, but I tend to make bad eye contact (though I'm better than I used to be), and I minimize conversation.

I think that if you're really bad about eye contact it can seem rude, but hopefully waiters/waitresses have dealt with enough customers to know the difference between shy and rude.
 

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Anthropophobia
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I don't usually make eye contact with anyone. I don't want to. My agreement with myself that led to the steady decline of my SA is that I would no longer do anything I didn't want to. Life instantly got less stressful. Eye contact feels wrong and threatening. If I make eye contact it means you have pissed off or threatened me to the point I am debating the best way to do physical harm. I also fail to make small talk with most people. I hate small talk. It is reserved for those cases where I really do want to get to know someone and it's required to get conversations going. I don't want to know the people in the service industry that I deal with. I give 1 word answers or shrug until they shut up. I really don't care what they think or say about me. I'm not interested in being social with them and I will never have to hang out with them so their life, opinions, and actions do not matter to me.
I feel split on the whole topic of eye contact and small talk because part of me agrees, and does, with what Akane says, but when I am actually in these situations I can't help but be very kind to people because I'm naturally a kind, sensitive person. I don't think Akane is being rude, I'm saying that I naturally fall into this habit of still being as sweet as possible and I don't think it's always the right thing to be super sweet. I don't make much eye contact but I speak very kindly and answer questions the best I can. But there are a few times, especially when I'm having horrible SA, where I do what Akane does and mostly ignore questions and completely avoid eye contact. Don't get me wrong, I hate eye contact and I mostly don't do it. But when I'm being on the sweeter side I maybe make a little bit of eye contact if possible. I noticed that I had an even bigger issue with eye contact in my teen years, so I guess one can say I've made a positive improvement.
 

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subtastic
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Making eye-contact is a regular part of professional exchanges and doesn't indicate that you want to make friends with the other person. So, yeah, some people will see you as being rude. To be honest with you, I always found the no-eye-contact customers rude when I worked cash, unless I could tell they were nervous about the whole thing.

If you care about being seen as rude, you could try to make eye-contact more often. It might be a good exposure exercise for you. Otherwise, try not to worry about it (that, too, could be a good exercise!).
 

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I'm the same way.. I can't stand running into whoever I last saw at places like restaurants, grocery stores, etc. There have been times though that I befriended waitresses from restaurants though only cause of my mom. She can strike a conversation with anybody.

But to answer the topic question.. Most would consider it rude. I'll be honest.. Even though I hate making eye contact with people & don't do it much, when I talk to someone else that doesn't make eye contact either I start thinking "is there something wrong with me?". Then I'm like "well perhaps they're just like me...". But yeah.. I don't think its rude if you simply don't like making eye contact or it makes you nervous. You may come off rude but you're not & shouldn't think you are.. Sometimes my Mom says that I'm rude but I don't think I am & I don't consider myself to be rude.
 

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poison apple
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I don't care if people don't make eye contact with me when I'm ringing them up (odds are I'm not making eye contact with them either).

But what really grinds my gears is when I greet them and ask how they are doing and they ignore me. If you're not going to make eye contact then at least say "Hello". Otherwise, it makes us feel as though we're just robotic servants there to do your bidding.
 

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Fighting the good fight
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I can understand why people think that not making eye contact is rude, but for sa sufferers it is really hard.
 
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