One Rule For More Meaningful Mealtime Conversations

The Rule

This is a profound, yet simple rule. You may be doing this already but if not, read on…..then implement it during mealtime.

mealtime conversations

I heard about this “rule” on Michael Hyatt’s podcast, This Is Your Life. He was telling a story about something he learned from from a visit with Luci Swindoll, the sister of Chuck. This is what he said:

…so we were at her house one night for dinner, and there were probably about 12 of us. She has her dining room table in the middle of her library, which is really amazing because you’re surrounded by all of these books. She stood up before we began. She prayed, of course. Then she said,

“Look. I only have one rule at my house. The rule is this. I call it the one conversation rule. It basically means we’re going to have one conversation. We can talk about anything you want, whatever you want. I have some questions prepared, but we don’t have to do those. We can talk about whatever we want, but I’m just going to ask that there be no side conversations and that we have one conversation.”

He goes on to explain:

I have never found anything to be more transformative to conversation and to deep, intimate connection with people than this rule. The reason for this is that when a lot of people are talking, it’s so easy to be distracted. You’re kind of trying to be present with the person who is talking to you, but you’re hearing these side conversations off to the side. It becomes very distracting. It’s very hard to engage like you need to. But when you establish the one-conversation rule, everybody gets a chance. You draw out the people who are not contributing or not speaking up, and you get a sense of what they have to say as well. 

The Meaning

Basically, having a one conversation rule means that there is only one conversation at the table. Everyone is engaged. This creates a more intimate and meaningful fellowship for all. It invites people to speak. It allows people to chime in to further the conversation. It teaches people how to listen, including the kids.

This may seem common sense to you. You may have been doing this for a while. This may actually be the norm for many. Well, not me. I must have missed the boat somewhere!

So, this was a breath of fresh air. In fact, this is exactly what we were missing at mealtime….with family and with friends.

We have have meals with a couple of families recently, before hearing this podcast, where this was practiced. It left me wondering what it was that was so special about that mealtime / fellowship and how it felt completely foreign to what I was used to. With my family, we have four kids and it is usually wide open with almost always more than one conversation going. When we have guests over it eventually leads to me talking with the Mr. and my wife talking with the Mrs.. The kids are either strangely staring at us or giggling quietly about something with each other.

What if we took this a step further? What if we also practiced this in different settings? In this particular podcast, Michael Hyatt explains how this can even be used successfully in a business setting:

“We went on a cruise with our entire team this last fall. We took everybody out to celebrate a goal we had hit as a company, so I took everybody on a cruise. Every night, we did this one-conversation rule. Megan, my oldest daughter who runs the company, had prepared just a set of three questions which were on a little tent card at each table. Each night they were different, and it was really a lot of fun because we got to know each other at a deeper level than just superficially. There was some thought, intention, and strategy put into the conversation, so it was way different from just kind of showing up and (no pun intended) blabbing on about whatever occurred to us.”


Do you practice this? Are you intentional about creating a meaningful mealtime with others?

This evening will mark the fourth day of us implementing this with our family at dinner. So far it has been a real step forward. I will have to revisit this down the road with an update. 


Is this a normal practice for you? Is this something that you had to learn or did it come naturally? I would love to hear about it below in the comments.


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