Skip to main content
SFU Student

A student looking at camera with a computer
Here are some tips on how to engage with individuals in your community.

Readers of this blog are likely looking for ways to engage with their community, be it through volunteer opportunities or organizational profiles. Before engaging with a community, however, I would suggest getting used to engaging with individuals. It’s many individuals that make up a community, after all.

Remember names and professions

People love to hear their name. That’s not to suggest that everyone is self centered, it’s just that a person’s name is often near and dear to them. So do your best to remember names and use it instead of “dude” or “you.”

The question, “So, what do you do for a living?” is so common that it’s become a bit cliché but the sentiment behind it is important. As Bruce Springsteen said “Work creates an enormous sense of self,” so remember a person’s profession and show that you remember. Doing so can communicate that they’ve left an impression on you. You can then proceed to…

Ask them how they got to be in that profession

People love nostalgia. It’s just how the brain works. It does its best to filter out painful details of the past, leaving better memories. That’s why when you ask someone how they got to be in their profession, you can immediately see a person relax and soften as those good memories come back. I am particularly fond of this method of engaging with people. Try it the next time you’re speaking with someone, especially a professor. They’ll often open up to you, which brings me to my next point.

Watch their body language and mirror it

Once a person opens up to you, it’s important to make them feel safe. It’s hard to open up to a person you don’t trust, after all. One way to make a person feel safe is to mirror their body language. Now, I’m not saying you should copy every little movement they make. No, that would just be creepy. Instead, pay attention to their mood and try to show that you’re also in that mood. If they’re relaxing then you should too. If they look serious, then show them you are also taking things seriously. People often project what they want through body language and reciprocating they’re feelings will help to engage with them.


This is the most important point on this list. Listening is a key part of engagement. Some people might feel uncomfortable with silence in a conversation. You might have experienced this before. For example, how many times have you been cut off so that the other person could get their thought in? It doesn’t feel good, at least not to me. Instead of making me wish to engage with that person, I feel like I’m not being listened to. Instead, try listening. Speaking from experience, when people talk to other people, they are often not seeking advice or commentary. No, people are just seeking someone who will listen to them. Being listened to is a feeling that most people greatly enjoy. It makes you feel appreciated. By listening to someone instead of hurrying to interject with your own words, you can let them open up to you, learn things about them you otherwise wouldn’t have, and achieve a deeper level of engagement.

SFU Student
visibility  81
Apr 11, 2014

Posts by Author

A Key to team sucess
Working on a Team: Five Keys to Success

You’ve got to that new stage in your life as a new employee. But as a new hire, you may feel somewhat out of place on what may be an established team. So, read on to find out five ways to successfully blend in.

A picture of two person looking away
Six Tips To Find The Perfect Volunteer Opportunity For You

Emily shares her tips for what you should consider when looking for a volunteer opportunity.

A photo of a interviewer and interviewee
“Do You Have Any Questions?”

Interviews are a two-way street. They allow employers to find out more about their candidates, and candidates to find out more about the employer. Find out what kind of questions you can ask to maximize your interview. 

You Might Like These... Volunteering, Community Engagement, Professional Development, Personal Development, Life Balance

STC West Coast
Alumnus Profile: How Crystal Kwon Advanced Her Career Through Volunteerism

Students often overlook one important benefit of volunteerism. While students realize that scholarships and bursaries usually require community engagement, they often forget that volunteerism can also give you the edge you need after you finish your degree.

Kyle and volunteers
Kyle Jung: Expand Your Horizons through Volunteering

Did you know that you can make a difference through volunteering, as well as discovering your passions and career goals? These are just some of the benefits of volunteering, according to Kyle Jung, a 5th-year SIAT student who is also the Vice President of Operations, Interactive Arts & Technology Student Union (IATSU) and the SFSS Forum Representative.

Jordan Robinson: Volunteer, Learn & Have Fun!

Do you want to improve your writing and communications skills? Do you want to meet other SFU students? If you answered “yes” to any of the two questions, becoming a peer educator may just be right for you! Let Jordan Robinson, a 4th-year Sociology student, tell you what valuable skills and experiences.

You Might Like These... Personal Development

Clubs day
Why Should I Join A Club?

Student clubs are a great way to get involved with the campus community! Loren shares her views on why you should join one ASAP!

Picture of a women smiling
DIY Career Opportunities

Finding a job that you want to wake up for can be a challenge, especially in today’s economy. But what if you could create your own job? I know someone who (almost) did this for themselves and this is his story.

A person in a wetsuit surfing a wave.
Ways to Stay Active in the Summer: Water Sports Edition

With an abundance of beaches and lakes on the West Coast, there are lots of different activities that you can do outside while staying cool. Here are some of our recommendations for ways to stay active in the summer, water sports edition: