by Maggie Knight, Specialist, Engagement + Communications
Having been a runner for 12 years, I have been fortunate to generally be injury-free. The exception to this has been when I’ve changed my routine. Before the pandemic, I would commute to work, where I integrated a fair bit of walking and since the pandemic, I generally roll out of bed and walk to my desk. The small low-impact movement of simply walking was gone and my big running muscles took a hit. I sought out help from a physiotherapist and the first question he asked was “do you cross-train?”. I had never crossed trained. I didn’t even track my pace most years – I just ran because I loved it. In the past, between walking to work, my running routine, and the occasional bike ride in the summer months I was fine – my lifestyle helped maintain my love for running.
This week, it’s -28 degrees Celsius in Calgary. While the sun is bright, I am not one of the hardy few who go from a run outside when it’s this cold. I need a cross training option to avoid injury and in order to keep doing what I love.
At the same time, I also started as the newest Engagement and Communications Specialist at Delaney. After nine years with the same organization, I was keen to apply what I learned and lean into a role more fully focused on engagement. What does this have to do with cross-training and running?
Like running, engagement has been part of my whole career, but unbeknownst to me there were times that aspects of the discipline were being progressively built within me. I was cross-training without realizing it. Active listening, facilitating group discussions, developing project plans, analyzing feedback, and drafting communications schedules are all foundational to working in engagement. For example, I might have been more prepared to jump into one-on-one interviews after doing service work for a few years, but I needed to work with small groups and understand how to build consensus with different interested parties before I might want to support a large group decision process. The last few years I was still engaging but I was having some pain points and like reaching out to my physiotherapist, I found myself reaching out to engagement professionals to provide insight, direction, and best practices as I wanted to lean deeper into the profession.
My relationships and what I know about engagement have changed. I am curious to engage with people, groups, and organizations that may not necessarily want to have a relationship with me. I’d like to better understand how to create safe spaces and how to measure that experience while in an online or hybrid discussion space. I want to better understand my role as a facilitator and the power that I have in that space.