Yesterday, we were at a social gathering with a sizable crowd. Afterwards my partner asked me if she maintained eye contact well during her conversations. She said it still didn’t feel very natural to her, so I gave her this piece of advice.
When talking to someone (especially in a louder environment, or when you’re with multiple people) and you have trouble maintaining eye contact, you can turn your head so that one ear is facing the speaker. Tell the speaker that this helps you hear them more clearly, or that you are hard of hearing in one ear. These are completely acceptable reasons not to have eye contact; after all, hearing what the speaker says is more important to a conversation than having eye contact.