Probably one of the most confusing nouns I’ve ever heard. It could mean ‘an agreement to marry someone’ as well as ‘the act of beginning to fight’. With debates on live television whether to accept foreign fugitives into Europe whilst the world holds her breath in fear of a possible next terrorist attack.
We got bombs bursting in Paris, rapes taking place in Cologne. I think we accelerate in showing each other how not to engage and how not to appreciate other human beings. We’ve lost the human touch in what I call a faceless society.
We want what we want and we want it now. Everything is literally but one mouse click away from us. Want new shoes? Find them on sale on the internet! Chat with a friend? Let’s do so via Skype or Messenger. What happened to Mark the butcher who kindly informs how your mom is doing?
Even at the working place things are messed up. Strikes take place everywhere, everyday. Moneygrubbers are committing major frauds whilst the worker with the average income fears for his job.
We are on autopilot. We do what we do because that’s how we’ve been doing for so long. Nobody is surprised when after a quick ‘Hello, how are you’ the answer is always ‘good’ or, even more popular ‘busy (apparently this should underline your so-called success). Try the next time somebody who offers you a quick ‘Hello, how are you?’ a deepening ‘Horrible, I feel stuck and I wish things were different’. I’ll guarantee you 90% of the people will experience some sort of short circuit in their heads and probably excuse themselves from listening to you by saying they are on their way to yet another boring meeting or appointment. Bare in mind that most airplane crashes happen on auto-pilot. Make sure you don’t crash.
But hey, what’s makes engagement so incredibly necessary? Research shows that every human being is in desperate need of attention. Everything we do is based on getting some sort of attention. Most people rather seek positive than negative attention but everybody chooses negative attention over no attention at all. The first time I read this and really understood it, it changed my whole perspective of everything and everybody in this world. No longer people who were nagging non-stop were idiots, nor were terrorist demons. It’s all a desperate call for engagement and therefor attention.
So what does this do for me? What can I learn from all the above? Keep it small and stay close to yourself. Be kind to people around you. Be aware of where and how you can do a little bit extra for somebody else who could use your engagement. Besides making the world a better place to be, you will also colour your own day since eventually it will come back right at you. Willingness to engage and alertness are key ingredients this world needs. Give it a shot. For instance the next time you step into an elevator. Wish people a nice day right before you split up. You’ll see how nice it feels and how welcome your short engagement will be.
Engagement with others helps building a healthy culture. Not only in private life. Same goes for corporates, fortune 500 companies, small businesses, classrooms and every other place on earth where people go. Be kind. Always.