Technology connects us to the outside world, but what about connecting to the world right in front of us? Take a look around you: How many people are on their mobile phones talking, walking, reading, surfing, emailing or texting?

Now look again: How many people are engaged with their phones while they’re with another person? What happened to actually paying attention to the person in front of you—the person with whom you (hopefully) arranged to spend time?

The brunch conundrum. On any given weekend morning, observe people having brunch at a restaurant. I used to be amazed at how people could share a meal, enjoy their first cup of coffee and read the newspaper—all without saying a word to their companions. Why bother going out? (Some people say it’s a sign of an established relationship when you don’t have to speak to the other person. I don’t buy it.)

Now it’s become even worse (yes, that is how I see it—worse). These people no longer bring a newspaper to brunch; their newspapers have been replaced by smart phones and Siri. I recently observed this behavior firsthand when my husband and I went out for a weekend brunch. For at least 15 minutes, the couple next to us never exchanged a word. They were completely engaged with their phones instead of each other.

Rediscover the art of conversation. Connecting with our communities is important (evident by Facebook’s popularity). But what’s wrong with this picture? A table of two (or four or more) are busy updating their Facebook status about where they are and what they’re doing and taking pictures of same—instead of actually being where they are.

Engage in the present. What has happened to the art of conversation? I challenge you to put down your phone during your next meal or meeting. Commit to actually being with your companions.

We’ve forgotten the sound, the touch and the power of conversation—one on one. Relationships still rule, so don’t let yours fall apart because of that little device in your hand. Put it away. The more you engage in person, the greater trust you instill in others—in both your personal and professional lives.

Sign up for The Lead and get a new tip in your inbox every day! More tips:

Joanne Black is a professional sales speaker, sales webinar leader, and author of “No More Cold Calling: The Breakthrough System That Will Leave Your Competition in the Dust” from Warner Business Books. Visit www.nomorecoldcalling.com. © Copyright 2011 Joanne S. Black. All rights reserved.