Recently I read an article about a way to improve communication that seems so simple but is really profound. The next time you are sharing a table with several people, agree to not break off into smaller sub-groups. You don’t need to make a proclamation about it, just see if you can steer the talk so that everyone is involved and no one is splintering off. What comes from it is fascinating; you instantly have a group of people who may not know each other well, and each has something important to say.
When three or more couples get together, invariably the women will pull together and talk about the kids and relationships, while the men will discuss…..I have no idea what. Later that night, you walk away with your spouse, feeling like you have enjoyed your time, but you may not feel any more connected than before dinner. Now, imagine if a woman who spends most of her days at home with children were to discuss a public relations situation with a Corporate Manager, or a high school teacher shares his heart with a female restaurant owner. Now you’ve got some rousing conversation! The best way to do this is to allow everyone into the same shared conversation.
Obviously this isn’t something you will want to do all the time, occasionally it’s nice to spend time with your tribe, but I can look back to a few times when I really felt heard by people outside of my family, and it was when we were all investing in the same topic. Think about how rare that is in everyday life.
It seems that so often we sit with our friends and spend time with those who are most like us, but if we were to change it up some and give everyone the respect they deserve for simply being at the table, I think we could all learn some things, and walk away feeling a little more connected. I want to challenge you to simply give it a try, whether you are in mixed company or a large group of like individuals; decide to stay on one topic at a time and see where it takes you.