how to improve your communicationThere are natural ways to improve communication skills, even at a dinner party.  Conversation is about living intentionally. Connecting people at a deeper level can be hard unless you have some pointers  on how to make a dinner party memorable.

I have always loved to entertain, though this season of my life has been limited due to traveling and speaking around the nation. However, I have plenty of experiences and loads of great memories of how to bring a surface dinner conversation to a more engaging place. Most talk in statements and with little details.  If you are shy and uncomfortable at the dinner party, usually the most talkative takes over and can monopolize a fun evening for all, if there is no direction. The silent in the room remains to themselves as they cordially try to act interested,  while wishing the verbose solo act would give someone else a turn.  Often, there will be a few who are engaging in conversation while the majority at the table only listen and don’t engage. Many are present, laughing at the appropriate times and enjoying the dialogue while little or no effort is made to find a way to fit in. It all seems out of balance to me.

My answer is to bring some questions to my dinner parties. I did it several ways, on various occasions. Here are some of my favorite successes.

  • Pre-arrange the seating using name cards. Place the talkers among the shiest, so the table seems even with conversation.
  • Use name cards for arranging opportunities for out of the box connections. Example: guy, girl; shy couples sandwiched between outgoing couples; men on one side and women on the other (this usually makes a man nervous because he depends on his wife talking); or, give out a number or color that matches random cards and see where everyone lands. This move alone sets you up for an unconventional dinner.
  • On the opposite of the name card put either a question, the meaning of their name,  a quote or verse,  a random fact or whatever you think fun for your party. At some point in the dinner, or at dessert, have the guests turn over the cards and begin some fun conversation. One comment will lead to others and soon laughter and the barriers are gone.
  • Set a card with a prayer and verse on the opposite side, and these cards can often be purchased.  This is always meaningful because the right verses usually ends up in the hands of the one who needs it the most. It is an easy way to enter a deeper connection and sharing.
  • Pass around a bowl of notepapers with random funny questions during the main course and into dessert. Examples: List two how to improve communication skillsspeakers who make you laugh and why? Share your most embarrassing story.  What is the best place you have ever traveled?  What is your favorite memory and why? Who has influenced you the most in your life? Pick three others at the table to sing with you a song from the Supremes or write a question you would like to ask. Always keep in mind the goal is not to humiliate, but to expand the stories around the table. The embarrassing one always leads to more stories and before long, strangers are intimate friends.
  • If you all know each other at the table, go around  the table and have the person tell what they like most about the next to them and why. It is the ”and why” part of any question that leads to longer answers and sharing

If you are willing to ask the right questions and put forth some effort to take it to the next level, your dinner party will soon be a dinner club with requests to do it again.

how to improve communication