Amid today’s fraught political climate, attempting to find common ground with a new acquaintance can feel like a gamble. But you can spare yourself the challenge of scrabbling for suitable small talk. Scientists in the US have found a simpler – and tastier – way to establish cooperative spirit.

Research by the University of Chicago Booth School of Business suggests that people in business talks collaborate better and reach agreements faster if they share a meal. The study divided participants into pairs, and then each duo was invited to enjoy some tortilla chips and salsa with their partner. Half of the pairs received one bowl of chips and salsa to share, while the other half were given personal bowls. Salsa freshly scooped, the members of each pair were then pitted against one another in a negotiation scenario.

On average, pairs who had shared bowls reached a deal faster than the teams who had eaten from separate bowls, with particularly rapid compromises made by pairs who shared their food more generously. The theory, according to scientists at Stanford, is that adding a collaborative element to a competitive environment (such as the negotiation table) leaves hard-nosed pros unsure about how to react – the familiarity comes at a surprise. ‘That disconnect gets people to pay more attention to each other,’ says Professor Margaret Neale. ‘They realise opportunities to create value that they wouldn’t otherwise.’

And what better food to share than the OG small plates? When it comes to negotiations, tapas offers more than just a chance to bond. A big bowl of gambas pil pil unites prawns - rich in satiating protein – with an endorphin-boosting hit of chilli that leaves you in a better mood. Not a fan of seafood? Go for some champinones al ajillo: Spanish garlic mushrooms, packed with immunity-boosting nutrients. Just don’t lean in too close when the negotiations start.

2023-05-19T14:31:39Z dg43tfdfdgfd