June 26, 2014

Breaking Bread

200492389-001A common feature of most Collaborative 4-way meetings is the presence of some kind of simple snack (nuts, candy, etc); a little something to perk up the ol’ blood sugar over the course of a long collaborative session. But sharing food may be more than a considerate gesture and a means to keep those mid-meeting hunger pains away.

Recent research by Stanford scientists Margaret Neale and Peter Belmi indicates that in competitive negotiations (the researchers cite divorce as a classic example of a competitive negotiation) sharing food helps create more valuable outcomes – basically, by sharing food divorcing parties are more likely to create a win-win deals.

The interesting thing about this study is that what’s eaten is far less important than the fact that the food is shared – actually served from a communal dish (like that bowl of M&Ms in the middle of your lawyer’s conference room table). It seems when the sharing of food (a cooperative, social act of goodwill) is overlaid on adversarial nature of competitive negotiations, the juxtaposition – the disconnect between a cooperative and a competitive act – causes people to pay more attention to each other and to find opportunities to create value they might have otherwise missed.

For more information, check: “Does Breaking Bread Help Make a Negotiation a Success?

Bruce Cameron
Attorney, Cameron Law, PLLC

Bruce Cameron, JD, MS is a second career attorney, practicing Quaker, and advocate for small town law practices. His solo practice focuses exclusively on collaborative law and mediation with just a soup├žon of estate planning for excitement. Bruce believes that alternative dispute resolution mechanisms, like collaborative law and mediation, are powerful positive means to reduce the destructive conflict typical of litigation. He has found that a little peacemaking tends to produce better outcomes for his clients. Learn more at www.CameronLawPllc.com

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