Although there are three things in business that I never discuss – sex, religion, and politics – I try to also stay away from business talk in particular when I’m enjoying a meal with a client. When I invite them out, I ask them if they’ll have time to break bread with me. Not to discuss the latest project.

I’ve often confided with clients that from the perspective of most people we both deal with in business, at the end of the day we’re put into a box and taken out only the next morning. Beyond the emails, project specs, purchase orders, and immediate needs, we seem to cease to exist.

But that act of sitting down at a table together, sharing stories and good conversation, opens up a more humane way of seeing each other. Real voices, real people, in real time.

G. Murphy Donovan expands upon it a bit more, and at times brutally, in his essay, The Culture of Kitchens:

Culture begins and ends on a plate. A proper wake is followed by good food and drink for good reason; a testament to life even without the guest of honor. We eat to live and then we live to eat. From the earliest times, food played a key role in the spiritual and literal growth of families and a larger society. An infant bonds with its mother while nursing; families bond when they share food. We define hospitality with friends by inviting them to break bread…

The places where people sat to eat became and remain the building blocks of family, commerce, and civil society.

Breaking bread is the act of sharing. It’s the act of offering oneself to others as a way to celebrate a connection and common ground. We shouldn’t allow the screen to replace that communal table.

at the tableImage © Linda Carter Holman