How to Engage

By Shlomo Maital  

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   After many months of social isolation, perhaps there is a need to re-hone our social skills – specifically, how to engage with others.

   My wife and I are blessed with a whole bunch of wonderful grandchildren (and one great grandchild), ages 1 through 27.  We love being with them, and seek ways to engage them – not easy, when generations and decades separate us. 

    Here are a few ideas, for engaging (making strong contact) with friends and family and strangers.

    1.  Ask questions.  What have you been up to lately?   The goal is to find where two circles intersect – your own circle, and the person with whom you are engaging. To do this, you need to gather ‘intelligence’ (information).  And the way to do that is to ask questions.

    2. Be a good listener.  It’s not enough to ask questions. You have to really listen closely to the answers….

    3.  Find the other person’s true passion.   Some of our grandchildren are passionate about our country’s recent history. Some love chess.  Others, sports, cycling, hi-tech…   Make it your goal to find their passion.  Then, in future, you have a head start. You know what really ignites the person with whom you are engaging and can engage them with conversation on it.

    4.  Suspend judgment.  Sure, my generation (born 1942) disapproves of a whole lot of things the young generation does.  At least temporarily, put those in the drawer.  You can engage; or you can reprimand; but it’s hard to do both.  

   5.  Try to remain relevant, daily.  That means – be aware of what is going on in the world, and in the neighborhood, and in the lives of those you love.  When you can, provide support – moral, or when possible financial.  Be smart about it —  sturdy independence should not be ruined by such help, but sometimes strategic financial help can change lives.