Finding Your Courage At The Dinner Table To Improve Collaboration

Silvia Damiano
3 min read

Today’s business environment is more global than ever. Leaders must be able to collaborate with people from many different walks of life, and sitting down to dinner is a great way to share ideas and cultures. However, the concept of what is delicious can vary from person to person, and courage might be needed to try certain meals.

Giant Sea Squirts And Horse-rib-and-rectum Sausage! Yum?

While certain foods may be a delicacy in one part of the world, visitors from another region may not have the courage to try the dish. Deep-fried tarantulas are a popular snack in Cambodia. Would you give them a try? Locals say they taste a little like crab. Or what about a giant sea squirt? Found in the ocean near Chile, these massive creatures are served with lemon juice. Look up a picture of one of these sea giants and see if you are brave enough to eat it!

While much is known about food sharing between mothers and their babies, the benefits for adults are more unclear. Sharing food with others is an important aspect of resource sharing, but there are also social aspects. Sharing food can improve the emotional state for someone else, which can make you feel better, too (Alley, 2014).

Why A Leader Should Try New Foods

If you expect to be a global leader in your industry, you will invariably travel and meet with people from many other parts of the world. Even if you may never have heard of a particular food, you never want to offend your hosts. Trying things that may seem repugnant to you may require courage, but try to open your mind to
new experiences. 

Ways to expand your culinary horizon:

  • Take a cooking class. If a particular type of food seems appealing, but you really aren’t sure where to start, consider a cooking class. Many grocery stores and community centres offer classes, ranging from sushi to fine French cuisine. You can find something new to try and then hopefully impress others at your next dinner party!  
  • Be open-minded. Having the right state of mind is essential. As a leader, you are seeking positive collaborations to further your business interest. Refusing to mingle and eat with potential new business partners is a quick way to have your name taken off the list.
  • Do some research. If you know you are visiting Kazakhstan, brush up on the local food. Sausage made from ALL parts of the horse are very common and delicious in Central Asia, even if you may be unsure. Reading up on local customs and traditional foods ahead of time can help you gather your courage if you need it!

A Different Approach To Collaboration

Instead of feeling anxious and afraid of trying new foods, pull your courage out from the deep part of you and be adventurous. Leaders who are agile in other aspects of their life will bring this agility to their leadership style.

The gentle art of gastronomy is a friendly one. It hurdles the language barrier, makes friends among civilized people, and warms the heart.

Samuel Chamberlain

Food has a strange way of helping us communicate. Even if you can’t say a word in another language, food transcends the need for words to get a message across. A good meal with a tasty beverage can bring happiness to nearly anyone. As a leader, cultivating relationships is important, and one of the best ways to say ‘Hello!’ is with something great to eat.

A Leadership Model That Embraces Finding Your Courage

Developing leadership skills is much like developing culinary skills. It takes dedication, hours and hours of practical experience and the correct tools. The i4 Neuroleader Model can give you the tools to fuel coordination across ever-changing boundaries, to collaborate in the moment, and to overcome the FEAR (False Evidence Appearing Real) response of our amygdala.

Neuroscience is showing us that we can recondition our amygdala so that it only alerts us to real threats - not the exotic food on your plate. Leaders with a high level of collaboration will be caring and courageous and will experience improved relations at work and in their personal lives. So, grab your fork and try a bite of something new, both in the culinary and leadership sense!

Alley, T. R. (2014). Food sharing and empathic emotion regulation: an evolutionary perspective.Frontiers in Psychology, 5, 121.

Originally posted on: 21 June 2018
Last updated on: 18 February 2024

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Silvia Damiano

Silvia Damiano

Founder & CEO
About my Brain Institute

Scientist, educator, author, speaker, coach, award-winning leadership specialist, filmmaker and creator of the i4 Neuroleader Model & Methodology.

Silvia's scientific background and curiosity about the human brain led her to a decade long journey of research into optimal brain functioning and the application of neuroscience in leadership and daily life. Her past and current roles have uniquely prepared her for the current undertaking, that of leadership activist & change agent.

Silvia Damiano founded The About my Brain Institute in 2009, with the purpose of democratising leadership & neuroscience. She has a passionately held belief, that leaders in our 21st century global economy and their organisations must radically change long-held ideas of what constitutes effective leadership

In her ground-breaking books ‘Leadership is Upside Down’, ‘Brain-Friendly Leadership’ and the 2018 documentary ‘Make Me A Leader’, Silvia provides both compelling evidence and explores the importance of leadership in our personal and professional lives and what it takes to develop the human behind the leader.

Silvia has worked in different countries, across many industries, helping teams and organisations improve business performance. Silvia’s clients have described her as a passionate, dynamic, a highly experienced speaker and master facilitator on the topics of Emotional Intelligence, Cultural Change, Neuroleadership & Engagement.

Silvia is passionate about leaving a legacy of well-rounded leaders who can act and decide in a way that better serves humanity. Her clients include Microsoft, Australian Stock Exchange, NSW Government, VISA, Fuji Xerox and Manpower amongst many other global companies.

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