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The Business Lunch — Eating While Negotiating
My question is about the business lunch.
Are business deals negotiated over sharing a meal or having drinks necessary? Our boss just took away our expense accounts for taking clients to lunch. It doesn’t make sense. And it leaves us coming up short when clients want lunch and we have to pay, or at least pay our share.
–TG, Morristown, NJ
"Let's do lunch." Martini lunches are rare these days, but the martini-less business lunch or dinner is still as pivotal as ever in strengthening relationships and sealing the deal.
- In Russia and Japan business is almost always conducted over a meal.
- Tell your boss that recent studies exploring reasons why deciding vital issues while sharing a meal raises the level of productivity in discussions.
According to a recent article in the Harvard Business Review, two studies showed glucose levels boost brain activities bolstering self-control and "regulating prejudice and aggressive behaviors."
- Eating together affected negation outcomes.
- "The students who ate together while negotiating -- either at a restaurant or over food brought into a business conference room -- created significantly increased profits compared to those who negotiated without dining.
- Individuals who negotiated in restaurants created 12% greater profits than those who negotiated over food in a conference room where the fair is likely to be a sandwich and water rather than a full meal
- Other research shows that the unconscious mimicking behaviors of others leads to increased pro-social behaviors; apparently when individuals eat together they act out the same facial and hand motions.
- This unconscious mimicking of each other may induce positive feelings toward both the other party and the matter under discussion.
Table manners are important.
If one of the people you are dining with has gross table manners, you're less likely to stay engaged in what he's saying because he's talking with his mouth full of food, distracting you into thinking about his appalling manners and not the business at hand.