When you think about dinner, the first thought that comes to mind is probably the food and drinks. But what about connection, conversation, and shared laughs together? Those are arguably the more exciting parts about making dinner plans with family or friends. Having a shared meal is a great way to make memories and get to know others more deeply.
All of us have been to a dinner party where the conversation feels awkward, or maybe it’s going smoothly but feels surface-level. There is nothing wrong with light small talk about the weather, but often these gatherings can be so much more. It’s important to take advantage of the beauty of gathering in person and take advantage of the chance to connect and build real relationships. Here are some tips to try out to stay conscious of an intentional and meaningful gathering.
- Mindful intention. Be intentional about shaping the experience for all parties. There might be one dominant voice, or the class clown of the group. Try to keep everyone engaged and contributing to feel connected and equalized.
- Keep the phone usage to a minimum. This one sounds easy, but might be harder than you think! As soon as the phone comes out, even for a quick email check or to clear notifications, people are distracted and not present. Avoid that by putting your phone on “do not disturb” mode, or even physically put it away in a coat pocket or purse.
- Come prepared. Free-flowing conversation is great, but sometimes, to start things off, people unintentionally get stuck on surface-level comments about the weather or the stock market. Cultivating some conversation starters invites deeper conversations and ultimately creates a way for people to find common ground, connect, and empathize with one another.
Whether it’s a fancy restaurant outing with friends, a first date, or a casual dinner with family, a gathering with meaningful conversations can bring people together in a memorable and fuzzy-feeling way. You’ll notice the difference.