Seven Levels of Engagement That Define How We Show Up

What is “Engagement”?

We use the word engagement in many ways, and one definition is:

“to establish a meaningful contact or connection

We tend to think of people as being engaged or disengaged, but in fact, people engage at different levels based on their perception of a situation.

Importantly, our level of engagement can be highly dynamic and is completely in our control

I Think, Therefore I Feel

And then I act

It may seem that our actions and behaviors are a direct result of what we think, but Cognitive Behavior Psychology shows us that it is our emotions that connect our thoughts to our actions. Emotions are the direct driver of our behavior.

So consider this:
What we notice in other people is their behavior, what they say or do. We judge people and form opinions about them based on their behavior. But quite often we don’t know what emotion is driving their behavior, and we certainly can’t read their mind to know their thoughts in that moment.

Here’s what matters though:
Quite often we are oblivious to our own behavior. This is our blind spot, our behaviors when we are in a self-protective stress response. We are usually unaware of how we are acting, the tone of our voice, and our body language, because it just seems normal to us. And it is normal, for a stress response. But it may not serve us best in many situations.



Making sense of our behavior and that of others and having more choices

The Levels of Engagement framework lets us see beyond just the behavior, to what is driving behavior. Each level has its characteristic thoughts, emotions, and resulting behaviors along the spectrum of stress to success mindsets. Understanding these distinct characteristics and having awareness of how these show up in us can be a game changer! It provides us with a multitude of choices for situations, so we are freed from our default, habitual reactions. We can take charge of ourselves, rather than being at the effect of situations and other people.

This framework for understanding what makes us and others tick is based on the principles of Energy Leadership* developed by psychologist and Institute of Professional Excellence in Coaching (iPec) founder Bruce Schneider, In this unique framework there are 7 distinct engagement levels, spanning the spectrum ranging from greatest stress to greatest ease, which is associated with more success.

When you start applying your understanding of the Levels of Engagement, people and situations will make more sense to you. You will feel more at ease and empowered with more choices.

*Schneider BD. Energy Leadership: Transforming Your Workplace and Your Life From the Core, 2008, John Wiley and Sons, Hoboken, NJ.

Watch this video to learn more.