So, what has pancake day and Lent got to do with engaging people?
Engaging People Through Rituals
Very simply, people unite around common experiences. It’s why we often start talking about the weather in the UK, even before we find out what someone does for a living! Common experiences provide a safe territory for communication. They are the way in which we relate to each other because they give us things that we can talk about and an opportunity to share our knowledge and experiences.
Pancake day, or Shrove Tuesday, is a religious tradition that signifies the eve of Lent. Lent is a time for confessing one’s sins and a period of 40 days and nights of ‘fasting’ prior to Easter. Whilst the religious ceremony may be of less interest to some, the ritual of giving up something – chocolate or alcohol might be more common – still continues.
Engaging People Through Questions
So, what are you giving up for lent?
The power of communication lies in the asking of the question. As soon as the question is posed, the process of uniting through common experience takes place. Even if you aren’t giving up something, the door is open for further discovery should you wish to engage in it.
Asking questions and taking a genuine interest in the response you get is fundamental to engaging people. And lets face it, we all know if someone is genuinely interested in what we have to say or if they are just asking because a leadership book has recommended it. Demonstrating genuine interest as a leader is only part of the art of engaging people, but it is an important part. It shows you care. It gives you an opportunity to find out if you can be of help to others… And, at helps to get to understand what is in the head’s of those you lead. Whether you agree or disagree is irrelevant. Another’s reality is their truth and to engage people you need to engage yourself in their truth, walk in their shoes and see through their eyes.