[June 10, 2022] Long before I was introduced to the “business luncheon,” I’d found it professionally productive to eat meals with others. Yet, I took ‘eating meals with others’ for granted and overlooked the many not-so-obvious benefits. Some nihilists would say I do this to enhance my career; they would be wrong.
In an earlier article titled Eating with the Privates, I wrote:
“Privates give you blunt, honest assessments of what they see. You ask a question, and they give you the answer. There is no shading the truth, trying to make things look better than they are, misleading, or distortions.”1
People want the truth. Whether they are a Husband (or Wife), a high-ranking Officer, a company CEO, or just Joe the Plumber, we all want accurate insight into what is happening around us. Psychologists claim that wanting to know the truth is a survival instinct, an inborn trait inherited from those who lived in the brutish, nasty past. I say eating meals with others feels like the right thing to do and makes you likable.
Yeah, we all know the benefits of a business luncheon. You get to know your coworkers, you get an edge on your competitors, people are happier and more open when relaxed, and folks are more likely to work with you in the future. True enough. And those benefits are worthwhile. But there is much more to eating with others than we might not think about.
Eating meals with others is a primordial behavior of our ancestors. At meals, they discussed far-ranging topics. Sitting around the campfire in small groups kept everyone’s attention and as a form of camaraderie. Singing songs (which is fun) and telling stories (like the stories of heroes) was more than a form of entertainment but a way to ensure everyone knew they were an essential part of something bigger than themselves.
Here are a few reasons to eat your meals with others.
- It allows everyone to see and understand proper behavior (by discussing social norms) and the ramifications of failing to act correctly.
- Learning about who cannot be trusted has value. Or where there is a loss of confidence in other people who are not pulling their own weight. Or making those who have betrayed the group. Greater collaboration can also come from such a discussion.
- People are happier and will share more information with you. They will discover that you are a real person and, hopefully, not a narcissist or nuts. They learn that you have a family too and that you have real problems just like they do (and perhaps can help).
- Honesty prevails when folks sit down to eat, look each other in the eye, and talk. Talk matters more than we know. Talking frames our reality. It sets us straight because others help us. It encourages action and foresight when laziness would typically prevail.
The benefits are many to eating with others. Sit down and eat your meal with friends, family, and coworkers. You’ll find you gain more than you can envision.
Please read my new book, “Our Longest Year in Iraq,” on Amazon (link here).