Try this approach the next time you talk to boys and girls in your class or your school. I have had thousands of one on one conversations with kids, I try to do this whenever I can.
Use this approach when you are trying to find something out, they seem off, they need to share, calm down, get back on track, etc. Not necessarily if you are delivering consequences, that is slightly different.
I have used these different approaches a lot in my years, I think I have seen some great benefits.
For boys: Talk while sitting or walking next to them, side by side, shoulder to shoulder.
For girls: Talk while sitting face to face with them.
For boys: If you can find an activity to do together, even better, if possible, if not just be next to them. If you are or need to be face to face, give them something to play with in their hands.
For girls: Listen a lot and look at them in the eye. Ask them how they feel and what can you do to help them?
For boys: Tell them what you might think, if they don't open up right away. Asking them what is bothering them or how they feel, will probably initially get you no where. Let them agree or disagree with what you think, and take it from there.
I am not saying that you can never sit face to face with boys, sometimes it is necessary, especially when delivering consequences, but use the side by side approach whenever possible. I am also not saying never walk with girls or sit next to them, but when you can, sit face to face. There are also always exceptions, you need to know your students for these.
It is simple, but I have found it really helps make boys and girls more comfortable with the conversation.
Forcing a boy to stare at you when you talk will immediately make them withdraw.
Not facing a girl and not looking at them will immediately make them feel you don't care.
Give it a shot, what is the worst that can happen?