If you want a better outcome from a business negotiation, then consider arranging and sharing a meal with your negotiator.A new research by the University Of Chicago Booth School Of Business has discovered that when people in a business deal share a plate of a meal, it leads to better collaboration and the deal is reached faster.

In the study, “Shared Plates, Shared Minds: Consuming from a Shared Plate Promotes Cooperation,” published in the Journal of Psychological Science, the researchers led by Ayelet Fishbach, a Chicago Booth Professor, were focused at answering the research question  “could sharing a meal help boost business cooperation?”In answering this question, study respondents who were all strangers to one another were paired off in a lab experiment which entailed negotiating.

The participants were invited for a snack of salsa and chips with their partners. Half of the pairs were given one bowl of chips and one bowl of salsa to share while the others were required to have their bowls individually.The next step was a negotiating scenario whereby; one person from each pair was randomly picked and asked to act as a manager while the other as union representative.

The objective was to strike an acceptable wage within 22 rounds of negotiation whereby; every round represented one day of negotiations while the union strike which was presumed to be costly was supposed to start during the third round.  Both sides were to be affected by the costs of the strike and each side had a need to reach an amicable solution as soon as possible.Teams with shared bowls took an average of nine strike days to strike a deal. On the other hand, pairs who had eaten from separate bowls took an average of fifteen days to reach a deal.

The variation translated into significant values in terms of dollars, saving both parties from losses.According to the researchers, these phenomena had no association regarding how two people who were negotiating for a deal felt about each other. Instead, the concern was the coordination of their eating.The researchers repeated the experiment with both strangers and friends.

They noted that as expected, friends reached an agreement faster than strangers. However, sharing plates had a significant impact for both groups.The level at which one felt he was collaborating with his partner while eating-sharing a meal instead of competing for it determined their feelings of collaboration during the negotiation stage.Ayelet Fishbach the lead researcher says that, while technology has made it possible for people to undertake meetings remotely, sharing a meal together has a higher prospect of influencing a better outcome.

The same is also true outside business contexts.“Sharing a meal generates an opportunity to connect to the person and create a social bond” says Fishbach.