Being Engaged

Being Engaged

Common sense tells you that you can’t interact, you can’t negotiate, you can’t have a conversation, you can’t relate to another person unless you engage with them. It is the sine qua non, the first thing involved in Being Relational.

To be engaged, we invite you to focus on the quality of the interaction itself. Take a close look, a micro-focused look, at daily interactions. Take a look at how you interact with other people. If you regularly, habitually, fall into any of the above behaviors and coping strategies, you are not engaged. These may be habits that protect you, but they are barriers to engagement with others. You can change that if you want to.

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In Contrast: Being Engaged is not:

So often you don't engage.
Habitually or unconsciously you may exhibit one of the following behaviors:
  • You avoid the uncomfortable subject or avoid the other person entirely.
  • You are sleepy, mentally idle or disinterested in other people.
  • You are distracted, preoccupied with some other thought, thing, or stimulus.
  • You are present but closed to any other perspective than your own.
  • You are rigid and impenetrable: you stonewall others.
  • You are impulsive and strike out to push other people away, to crush or swat others aside.

What do you do to make sure that you are present and attentive when you are with someone?
How can you show others that you are interested in them?

Listening isn’t just a skill. Like presence, it too is more of an attitude, one of curiosity and openness – but there are definitely practices that can make you a better listener. First, you recognize the challenge associated with the mere process of verbal communication. Yes, your brain is processing the words and working to comprehend them, working to follow what another is trying to communicate to you, but you can lose track while processing their stream of words, and the thoughts of others may not be clear or very well expressed. Verbal communication is complex and difficult and often it simply is not done well. Not everyone can spontaneously roll out perfectly formed sentences. Indeed, most people cannot speak clearly at all, especially when you slip out of gear into the experience of conflict or challenge. The words you choose may not communicate the meaning to another that you intended. You express ideas that are not complete. So you are aware that you may fail to communicate your intended message clearly to another. Rather than blame them for not understanding, you allow for the possibility that others may not be doing any better than you are.

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Engaging is a deliberate act. It is an act of ease once practiced, but it is never habitual. It takes commitment to be engaged and live relationally.


The acknowledgment of another, pausing in your life to be fully with another even for a second, is such a simple act, yet it can take so much awareness and courage to do it.