Jon Aikman's Blog

Thoughts on Mediation and Project Management

  • Eating together is a basic part of being human that spans all cultures and environments. It is well established in religious beliefs – the “breaking of bread” of Christianity, the Breaking the Fast at the end of Ramadan for Muslims - and “feasting” has been an activity enjoyed by all cultures over the centuries. In Western business society we seem to have forgotten this most basic of ways of people being able to bond as a group. “Lunch is for wimps” was the theme for the corporate go-getters like Gordon Gekko from the film Wall Street. For most people lunch on a working day is functional, an intake of calories to see them through the rest of the day, a chance to escape the work environment and their colleagues for a while. Are we missing something?

    Food and eating can in a business environment can be so much more. You only need to see the way people come together and connect when cakes are brought into an office on birthdays. I realise that I have unconsciously used food to bond with people at work for years. I can’t claim any great psychological understanding for this, just my own love of food! To read more see my guest blog at The Project Whisperer http://pamstanton.com/Blog_new_Pam_Stanton_Project_Whisperer.html

    In Eastern business cultures personal bond and trust are far more important than they seem to be in the West. When I worked in Indonesia for 6 years I was slow to realise that the meals out I enjoyed with my client, architects, contractors and anyone else that offered to show me real Asian food weren’t to help me “settle in”. Weekend invitations to bring my family to vast breakfast buffets weren’t to help me “see the city”. They were getting to know me, forming bonds that then become hard to break. It’s much harder to fall out with someone you have shared meals with, got to know as another human being and part of a family known to you.

    I would be interested to hear from anyone with experiences of using food to build rapport and trust.

    No Comments