How To Have Better Dinner Conversations

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Michael Hyatt shared a great post with 8 suggestions for improving dinner conversations. Here are three of his points that I found most helpful:

Have only one conversation at a time. We learned this from Luci Swindoll. We went to her home for dinner one night. As we were sitting down to eat, she graciously said, "I only have one rule, and that is that we have one--and only one--conversation at a time. We can talk about anything you like. I really don't care. But just one conversation." This one rule transformed our dinner conversations.

Ask open-ended questions. As the hosts, Gail and I have a singular goal: we try to ask interesting questions. We try to make these questions open-ended, so that people must elaborate and give us some insight into them as a person. For example,


  • What is your idea of a perfect vacation?

  • If you could design your ideal job, what would it look like?

  • What is the best book you have read in the last 12 months and why?

  • What is the most important lesson you learned from your father?

  • When is your very favorite thing about your spouse?

  • If you were by yourself, and could listen to any music you want, what it be?

  • If you could spend a day with anyone on the planet, who would it be?

  • What it is like to be your friend? or to be married to you?

  • If you were suddenly the President of the U.S., what would you do first?

  • Looking back over your life, what would you describe as your proudest moment?

Ask a second question. The most interesting conversations come after the initial answer. It takes extraordinary discipline to refrain from answering your own question and, instead. answer a second question. Yet this is where the deepest conversations occur. I like to ask questions like these as follow-up questions:


  • How did it feel when that happened?

  • Can you elaborate on that?

  • Why do you think that is important to you?

  • Do you think you would have answered the same way five years ago?

  • What emotion do you feel when you describe that?

Michael's full post is worth reading. Any other questions you've found helpful for sparking good conversation? Please share them here.

1 Comment

I heard about a family where they enforce the one-conversation-at-a-time rule, and also they give each of their kids 1 or 2 minutes where they get to share about their day, etc. before the conversation moves on to the next person. I thought it was a neat way to teach your kids to listen but also to share appropriately (ie: know how to carry on a conversation w/o dominating it). I wonder sometimes, when I get together w/ my grown-up siblings, if we wouldn't have been better off to have learned that as kids, too.

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