Who Are You At Dinner With?
Use your leadership skills just like you use them at work, and watch your family get closer
Some of my best memories of childhood include family dinners when we had healthy discussions around the political scenario, how my parents’ work day was, how my brother and my school days were and what kind of fun we had that day.
Eating dinner together is the culmination of a happy day even if your day has not been happy. But as you climb the corporate ladder, this seemingly harmless meal takes a backseat. We end up getting work home, being on calls while eating, absent mindedly checking our phones as if in those 20 minutes that we can eat well and share some love, some calamity will happen somewhere if we do not check our phones. Really?
Being a good leader does not just mean that you are confined as a leader to the workplace. As a family person, whether you are a man or woman, taking the lead in keeping the family together is a natural task for any leader. Since your work for that 20 minutes seems to be that important, let me list down the benefits of eating dinner with your family:
* As you begin to do only one activity towards the end of the day, and that activity revolves around nourishing your body and spending time with your family, your nervous system and circulatory system start to relax. The blood flow becomes slower leading to lower blood pressure. Stress levels reduce because of which the digestive system becomes relaxed, leading to higher absorption of nutrients of the food you eat.
* With a high risk of depression in today’s times, family dinners have been documented to reduce risk of depression and suicidal tendencies in children who may be introverted or get bullied at school. This is because they are able to share without fear, with their parents, what they are going through.
* A lot of marriages end up disintegrating mid-career when either of the spouses is too busy focusing on building of senior management career. While the long work hours, travel and stress of dealing with work pressures cannot be swapped, just making a concerted and disciplined effort at ensuring that you keep your dinner appointment with your family just as strictly as you would keep a dinner appointment with the client, cements the male-female relationship as they work together as team mates to raise their kids.
* The same kind of professional credibility, ethics and vast knowledge that you are following at work can be passed down to your children to help them become confident and successful professionals themselves. This is because they imbibe these values from you in childhood, via constructive dinner time conversations, and also helps children become aware about what is happening in the world around them over and above their school and textbooks. For example, I have treated many kids with anxiety and depression because they were made fun of by peers in school due to lack of knowledge of basics like different kinds of cuisines, what is dinner table etiquette, even how we eat with a fork and knife, how we communicate without getting aggressive or raising our voice, how to negotiate with a shopkeeper etc. Even grown-up millennials are missing these skills because they are constantly on their phones and interaction in the real world is missing.
Seeing the above benefits, it makes sense for you to take out that time, and make a go at it. So what are the golden rules for you to be able to successfully follow the above?
* When you commit to a time, stick to it. It’s an appointment with your family, and they are important.
* Switch off the TV during dinner. Conversations will begin to flow.
* Tell everyone there’s a “no phones” policy at the dinner table.
* Tell everyone they have to individually share how their day was, and start with yourself as taking the lead.
Use your leadership skills just like you use them at work, and watch your family get closer and your kids get well adjusted as they grow up. Isn’t having dinner with your family worth your time now?