Personal Engagement: The Role of Meaningful Relationships

By Mark Vickers, Ph.D.


A new Gallup study suggests that every individual needs 6 hours of meaningful interaction with others every day in order to maintain wellness. Wow! 6 hours! I’m in the business of helping others maintain quality relationships, but I don’t think I come close to 6 hours a day.

That signals to me the importance of relationships in the whole of our lives. Both work and social relationships are necessary for a healthy life. Particularly in terms of engagement, our ability to know that we are part of a larger whole of people with similar needs and challenges is critical for our long term health at work.

Patrick Lencioni tells a story of graduating from college and being recruited to a large consulting firm. He recounts that the courtship was great (it felt exciting to be wanted) but the “marriage” was less than fulfilling. He found that he was essentially a gopher for the partners and a non entity to most of the staff.

From that job (which lasted about two years) came the realization that that two factors are especially damaging to engagement at work: anonymity and irrelevance. When nobody knows or cares who you are and you serve no recognizable purpose, your engagement plummets. Lencioni was anonymous and irrelevant in that mass of consultants.

What we all need for engagement are meaningful relationships at work. Not best friends, but relationships that move beyond the chit-chat of the water cooler. We need to be part of a team and serve a measurable and tangible purpose. Everything else can fall into place if those are present.


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