Jacky Sherman

The Consultant's Consultant

07970 638857


Breaking Bread And Sharing Our Food

An instinctive part of who we are ...



Breaking bread is an expression taken from the Bible that has a wider secular meaning. It's the sharing of food to build and strengthen trust and bonding ...

Sharing our food seems to be an instinctive part of who we are!

Sharing our food seems to be an instinctive part of who we are!

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The sharing of food is a human universal. In other words, it is found in every culture, so may even be hard wired into our brains. It’s certainly a good evolutionary survival tactic. If I share my food with you, when times are tough you’ll share your food with me.

Moving forward to more modern times, I couldn’t think of an occasion where people get together socially where sharing food doesn’t feature.

"Imagine going to a wedding where
there was no food!"

On less formal occasions, maybe when meeting a friend, it often starts in the coffee house or moves that way. Even when visiting someone’s home at the very least a drink is offered and usually accepted.

In fact, we can often feel uncomfortable when it isn’t offered or when the other person refuses our own offering to them.

Sharing of food implies we are with people like us; these are people we trust. And the more we actually share food off a common plate, the more intimate and trusting we become.

So we’re more relaxed and talk more openly when we're sharing a curry than going to a formal banquet where your food arrives on your own private plate.

We usually save feeding someone off our own fork with members of our close family or as part of a courting ritual to move to a more intimate relationship.

"Although the degree and level of informality do vary with different cultures, I think the rule holds true!"

In business, the same rules seem to apply, although this can vary with the reason for the meeting as well as the nature of the relationship. Usually, really formal meetings might only offer water or maybe coffee, whereas working parties may include biscuits or sweets.

A business lunch may be a shared pizza amongst colleagues or a more formal restaurant lunch with a prospect or client. But just imagine getting out the chocolate chip cookies at a disciplinary hearing!

Once a group is established, some members may supplement these with their own offerings into the group. Although others are usually polite if this is done too early in joining the group, it can make them feel uncomfortable and interpreted as pushy or needy.

Networking is a particular brand of business get-together. I don’t think I’ve ever been to an event that did not include sharing of food, be it breakfast, lunch or canapes in the evening.

So when networking, breaking bread together can create the atmosphere of informality and intimacy that will facilitate relaxed conversation even amongst strangers. An excellent way to get to know someone and being able to lose your reserve and be honest; relationships are built when this occurs.

I’d like to see more networking events thinking about how they use the sharing of food to facilitate the social bonding that forms lasting, powerful relationships.

"I’d love your thoughts on some ways you use food and drink to build your business relationships!"

What facilitates the relationship and what makes you feel uncomfortable? Whether it’s just commenting on the quality of the sausages at breakfast to sharing a pizza over lunch, I’d be fascinated if any of you get to the stage of feeding the other person off your fork.

Until next time ...


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07970 638857