It was a Friday evening and I met with a friend to watch a play and later catch up over dinner. The play was about a marriage gone sour and yes it did leave me with a bad taste in my mouth about the reality of relationships in our world today. We shared on the audience response to certain expectations that each of us has in relationships today as we headed out for dinner. The mmmmhs,aaahs and tongue clicks as we watched were a testament to just how they couldn’t have picked a better storyline for the play. We concluded the obvious “We long for relationships!”.Not only that but healthy ones, more so, that we either give them a shot or avoid them altogether.
Well, it wasn’t the play only that featured the reality of unhealthy relationships, our own lives themed out the obvious. We shared the same struggle and that was disengaged relationships. The lack of deep meaningful connection in our interactions with others, and in this case our dating relationships; what we termed as disengaged relationships. We agreed that it is very hard today to meet a person and just connect meaningfully, laugh and just be present without sex peeking somewhere in the picture. Or just how hard it is to just be real and authentic in this social media-crazed society we live in today. How it’s all about appearances, filters and just how hard healthy conversations become even harder to delve into with majority, including ourselves.
So, I just want to share a few tips that will push us to be more engaging in our interactions with others.
1) Get out of your head.
When sharing our ideas, thoughts and who we are it is important that we share from a confident place. A place of self-acceptance and self-approval. We do not show up to receive these things but to offer bits of who we are. When we are not confident of what we are saying and who we are, we tend to pull away from engagement and we give less and less to the interaction. We give less personality, enthusiasm and life into the conversation because we are lost in our heads over-thinking and double-checking things about ourselves.
2) Prioritize and put your stupid phone down. *wink
In a very connected world, you would imagine that our connection abilities would have tripled or something of the sort! But look at us! We aren’t doing so well, are we? I have, sadly, been on my phone on dates and I have had a guy that apparently had to pick up his phone each time it rang on our date! On each date! I don’t even want to know how we hang out with our family and friends out on these streets! We are evil people! LOL. Okay, no!
You do agree with me though that we need to put our phones down, right? We need to prioritize the people sitting across us and their offering into our lives. Don’t just pick your phone up in the middle of a conversation without politely excusing yourself. Actually, if that phone call can wait, then with all due respect, let it wait. It’s a kind and needful thing to do to allow this person to know that you truly honour them, their time and what they were saying. Need I mention that the person standing right in front of you is a real person and therefore your Instagram can definitely wait?
3) Bring your body along and make sure it looks interested too!
Body language speaks louder than words. I remember being on this ‘interesting’ date where this guy literally put his head on the table as we talked. I was annoyed and offended because It felt like he wasn’t paying attention and if he was, he found me boring. I asked severally if he was paying any attention because he didn’t have to say that he wasn’t.
It’s okay to verbalize that you are a bit distracted if you find yourself feeling a bit distant. This lets the other person know that it has nothing to do with the interaction. Being intentional about our body language helps us to pay attention and more so let the other person know that we are present in that interaction especially if we have already committed ourselves to being there.
4) Dig deep if not deeper!
Create a genuine interest in the person you are interacting with. I know, we are scared to be known. We are so terrified that who we are may not be our perfectly filtered Instagram pictures and Facebook updates. We are so terrified to let others see that we are more human than we let on on these social media highways. So we do not ask and dig deeper because we too don’t want to be found out.
You can never go wrong with questions if your intentions are having more engaging conversations and relationships with the people around you. Ask about those things that light them up because people generally like talking about themselves. We literally couldn’t stop talking about this with my friend especially in our dating situations. We date to get to know the other person. How are we meant to know people if we do not inquire with genuine interest? It’s okay to put a little effort and be a little less self-absorbed to allow us to get to know other people.
5) Don’t be the Debbie downer or the one-upper.
Both of these people are diminishers! They leave the person they are interacting with feeling small and their contribution meaningless. No one wants to talk to either of them. A debbie downer is generally someone that finds excitement in dampening the mood of those around them.No glimmer of light and positivity exudes from their presence. Don’t be the friend/human that makes people feel less by rubbing off your own insecurities on them. A one-upper is always in competition! Especially with the pressure built by social media. Yani, this person will not let you talk about your trip, food, pain, grief or even joy without making it about themselves or allowing your story to be good enough. They always have better experiences, deeper pain and whatever else that has definitely to be better than yours.
These two people kill any real true connection that attempts to live. It’s okay to listen quietly without planning on what to say next. Its okay to recognize peoples feelings and celebrate their joys without taking away from it, no matter how ‘small’ it may seem to us. We do not have to compare our lives, accomplishments or pains with others. This right here I believe is very honouring and does not allow judgement to be a part of the interaction. And this, to me, is breathtakingly commendable.
I believe that the journey to better engagement begins with being better healthy and self-actualized people. The work definitely begins within and that work is evident in how we interact with others. Of course, as usual, it is easier said than done, but it is definitely worth the effort.
How do you make sure you are engaging better? We’d love to hear in our comments section.
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