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What’s for dinner!

Alan Smith
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My 22-year-old daughter is currently 4 years into a 5-year course at Bristol University, training to be a Vet. Difficult profession. Lots of different types of sick animals who can’t tell you what is wrong. Nightmare really. Although she tells me at least the patients don’t come into surgery with a whole self-diagnosis thanks to Doctor Google.

Right now, she is on rotation, which means that she is spending 2 weeks at different practices, doing a variety of things. This week she is in an abattoir, yuk.

The previous 2 weeks she spent at a major teaching animal hospital as an anaesthetist. Which she tells me is one of the hardest jobs to do, figuring out how to keep animals alive but unconscious requires incredible skill and experience.

It was made particularly difficult by the nature of the work, which required her to be available and on call, all day. Sometimes it would mean that she was unable to take a break for many hours and having lunch at 4 pm having started at 8 am.

Concentration and energy levels inevitably drop under those circumstances, which could be catastrophic. Blood sugar through the floor!

Creating the right environment, atmosphere and ambiance will be pretty critical in many situations. Particularly when difficult decisions and creative solutions have to found in stressful contexts.

There has even been evidence that eating together with your negotiation partners from the other side of the table creates better value in the eventual deals that you do. (Should you eat while you negotiate? Lakshmi Balachandra, Harvard Business Review 29/1/13). Lots of reasons why this should be the case including social interaction, cultural norms and of course the energy boost that eating brings.

I know it is a bit early, but if you are looking for a negotiation related present for Christmas, the Negotiators Cookbook, by Gerry Adams, could feature on your list. In it Adams, the Former Sinn Féin leader, reveals recipes with "some of the best-kept secrets of the [1998] Irish peace process". He claims, "The British never fed us. They never had any food. But as intrepid republicans and being blessed by one or two great cooks these are the recipes that sustained the Irish negotiating team”

It has not been published yet, so I have no ideas on what will appear, I am in conversation with some of my colleagues who have a culinary disposition to see if Scotwork fancy going head to head with Adams, in a cookbook race. Not sure Jamie Oliver should be overly concerned.

Slightly tongue in cheek (not Ox tongue braised and with a fine jus) but the reality is if you want to create an environment that is collaborative, and often we do, think about making it as comfortable as possible, and with appropriate sustenance if required.

Seems to be a recipe for success.

Alan Smith
More by Alan Smith:
Stubborn! Me?
Another fine mess!
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