Reality Check: Engagement as an Employability Skill

Skills such as getting along with others, overcoming shyness, and developing a willingness to learn can help us get and keep employment. I’ve been referring to these as “employability skills.”
Even if you don’t care deeply about your workplace, such skills are still worthwhile as they increase satisfaction in non-work life, too!
The skill I’ve chosen for this last look at employability is one that can make one’s whole life more satisfying when we choose to use it. It’s the skill of engagement.
Do you know what engagement looks like? Have you been in a store where the customer-service folks want to make sure that you get exactly what you want and do their best to ensure that you are delighted?
What’s the opposite? Folks who just go through the motions, who reluctantly do the bare minimum while waiting for quitting time to roll around.
Who do you think is happier at their work?
In your experience, when you are somewhere that you don’t want to be, doing something that you don’t want to be doing, how does time pass? Does it fly? Or does it drag?
Now, how about when you are fully engaged and absorbed? How does time pass then? Might you look up from what you are doing and be shocked that hours have flown by?
Engagement makes time go faster; it also makes work more satisfying. Getting involved and interested can make a huge difference for you and the people around you.
You might think, “That’s easy for people who have interesting work. But I have a boring job. There is nothing to get engaged in.”
If that’s the way you see it, then I invite you to take another look.
Perhaps your job involves repetitive tasks. If so, look for ways to do those tasks better, more efficiently, or with less stress. Not only does it make the work itself more interesting, it may help you improve your job!
Perhaps your job requires interaction with people, whether customers, suppliers, or co-workers. If so, you have lots of opportunities for engagement. How? Take an interest in people. What is it that they need and want from you? (Hint: you can often find out by asking them.)
Then, try delivering what they want in the best possible way. Try surprising them by delivering beyond their expectations. Observe what happens. Did your job suddenly become more interesting, and potentially more satisfying?
Disengagement sometimes gets tangled up with dissatisfaction. And dissatisfaction often comes from thoughts of “they.” For example, “They don’t like me. They are only in it for the money. They are trying to take advantage of me. They, they, they…”
Perhaps your cynicism is justified. However, is choosing disengagement making your life better?
If your workplace is truly awful, try engaging fully in the search for a better one.
If you choose to stay, you may as well try to make your workplace as satisfying as possible. Why not try engagement? Really give it your all. See if it makes work (and life) more fun. Try it, and then of course, let me know how it works for you.

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