Eating as a social activity is as old as humanity. At first it’s easy to just see it as entertainment. Dig deeper though. Any social activity can serve a concrete goal.
Eating As A Social Activity Promotes Cooperation
Take Trump’s and Kim Jong Un’s pre-negotiation dinner in Vietnam. It served to warm the relationship between the two. This goal of eating has served many leaders throughout history.
Now, extend this. Eating as a social activity can build better teams. That’s because it can promote cooperation as it can in negotiations.
Two Food Sharing Activities Enhancing Eating’s Cooperative Spirit
Of course, more to this exists than just having employees eat together. Two factors enhance a cooperative spirit. First, eating as a social activity becomes a sharing activity. That means having the same meal, the same food. No, special orders exist.
While some problems might arise because of dietary restrictions, they’re a plus. Working around them and integrating new food experiences form the essence of cooperation. They also promote empathy, further promoting cooperation.
The second factor enhancing eating as a promoter of the cooperative spirit focuses on the way one serves the food. Here, serving family style is another sharing activity. Not only do all pull food from the same dishes to their own. They make cooperative decisions about passing dishes and serving portions.
Pizza Versus Special-Ordered Sandwiches
As an example, take pizza versus special-ordered sandwiches, both ordered as take out. All we need to ask is, “Which requires more cooperation and sharing?” It’s pizza. All must negotiate the type of pizza and its toppings. None of that exists with special-ordered sandwiches.
While this example does not represent a true family-style experience, it does highlight the essence of sharing food. Just move it to a sit-down meal. “What kind of meal and ordering requires more cooperation and sharing?”
Making A Team Meal Too Much Hassle?
Obviously, team meals such as those above aren’t easy to do. It’s easy to see them as more hassle than they’re worth. Of course, not all meals need to have a team building focus.
Still, take any team-building exercise. Is it easy? No, it’s not. Do participants just do whatever they want? No, they don’t. Just as some can’t or won’t eat some of the foods served, some can’t or won’t do some team-building tasks.
Yet, just as the team-building exercise finds a role for each, the team meal finds a food for each. Just as all won’t do the same role in an exercise, all won’t enjoy the same part of a meal.
So, if eating as a social activity for team building seems too much of a hassle, perhaps building an effective is too much of a hassle too.