A 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?“Tagged with: Collaborative Divorce • collaborative divorce process • communication • creating value • divorce • healthy divorce • Mediation • negotiation • peaceful divorce • social rituals