For bosses, building trust with employees isn’t easy – but apparently, eating together with them might just help.
Psychologists at Chicago University found that by eating the same meal as bosses, salary negotiations are more likely to go well because people tend to like others with the same tastes.
Managers are more likely to trust people if they choose the same dishes as them and even total strangers are much more likely to instantly trust us if we choose the same dishes as them, according to the findings published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology.
Researchers conducted a series of experiments to examine food’s role in earning trust.
In one, volunteers played the part of either a manager or union leader trying to reach a wage settlement and end a strike.
Each player scored points according to how few offers it took to reach a deal, it turns out discussions were much more successful if both sides chose to snack on the same treats.
The reason is thought to be so-called similarity attraction theory – where people tend to like others who have similar tastes or habits to themselves.
“We found when negotiators consumed similarly, they felt closer and were able to come to a faster resolution beneficial for both parties,” said the researchers.
The theory applies even for total strangers.
In a second test, participants were told to watch TV testimonials, where someone pretended to be a member of the public endorsing a certain product.
The volunteers were given Kit Kat bars to nibble, while the TV person ate either a Kit Kat or grapes as they talked.
Tests showed viewers were much more likely to express an interest in buying the product if the TV showed the other person eating a Kit Kat too.
“Although similarity in food consumption is not indicative of whether two people will get along, we find consumers treat this as such. They feel more trusting of those who consume as they do. It means people can immediately begin to feel camaraderie and develop a bond, leading to smoother transactions from the start.” the researchers added.
Human Resources magazine and the HR Bulletin daily email newsletter:
Asia's only regional HR print and digital media brand.
Register for your FREE subscription now »