3 Tools Not to Bring to Important Conversations

My wife and I decided to try a little Italian bistro down the road for lunch. We had driven by many times and knew it had some outdoor seating areas that wouldn’t be too noisy—perfect for the important conversation we needed to have. The season of life had us feeling a little frazzled, and we didn’t want any distractions during this chat. So before we even got out of the car, we decided to stash our smartphones in the glove box. No text or call was going to be more important than our next hour together.
As it turns out, it’s a game changer to purposely put distractions aside when it’s time to have an important conversation. But there are a few common tools you probably always carry around that may be unintentionally stealing your focus. Here are 3 tools not to bring to important conversations.

1. Your Wallet

Dim lighting, fancy white tablecloths, and perfectly seared filets—I love a good steakhouse experience, but I’ve found that some of the most meaningful conversations I’ve ever had didn’t happen in a fancy restaurant or during an expensive night out. They happened in casual settings. You don’t need to drop big money to have big conversations. Leave your wallet out of the mix. Quiet spots like a porch swing, a park bench, or around a fire pit work great.

2. Your Watch

I can recall more than one occasion when I was engaged in conversation but not listening at all because I was actually thinking about other things I needed to do. When something serious needs to be tackled between you and your spouse, kids, or friends, think to yourself, “Be present.” This could take extra planning, but it’s worth it. It shows respect to whomever you’re engaging with and slows you down long enough to truly listen well. Commit to spending the necessary amount of time with whomever it is you need to be with. Resist that urge to look down at your watch.

3. Your Smartphone

This is probably our biggest modern distraction. That’s why I left it in the car for that lunch with my wife. There are studies out there that suggest just the presence of a smartphone decreases fulfillment during conversations, even if it’s never touched. There are roughly eight billion people on earth. Smartphones can help us connect to everyone and everything in the world—except the person across the table. Put it away to show the person you’re sitting with that he or she matters more than whatever you’d see while scrolling in that moment.

Sound off: What distracts you the most during what could be meaningful conversations?

Huddle up with your kids and ask, “When do you get the most distracted?”