You Can’t Be A Great Conversationalist If…

… you check your iPhone while talking face-to-face.

Comedian Steven Wright jokes that once, right in the middle of a job interview, he took out a book and started reading. When he asked his interviewer a question from the book, and the interviewer didn’t know the answer, Wright responded, “Forget it, then. I don’t want to work for you.”

Perhaps the single most important element of a great conversation is that all participants be fully engaged in the discussion, giving the topic their complete and undivided attention.

So why, when we’re talking with colleagues, friends, spouses, children — even our supervisors — do we so often look down at our smartphones to check missed calls/voicemails/texts/emails/?

It can derail your train of thought. It can keep you from hearing and fully comprehending what your fellow conversationalists are saying. And, perhaps most important, it signals to the other participants that they don’t have your undivided attention — which makes the conversation less fun and meaningful for them.

We all want to be known as engaging, interesting, insightful — great conversationalists. Here’s one very simple (not easy, I understand, but simple) step you can take to differentiate yourself from many of your colleagues and friends. When you’re engaged in a conversation, stay completely engaged. Don’t allow any electronic distractions.

About the Author

Robbie Hyman is a professional communications and public affairs writer. He has 15 years’ experience writing for nonprofits, small business and multibillion-dollar international organizations and is available as a freelance writer for federal agencies.

Robbie has written thousands of pages of content, including white papers, speeches, published articles, reports, manuals, newsletters, video scripts, advertisements, technical document and other materials. He is also co-founder of, an online course that teaches smart money habits to teenagers.