Getting along with people doesn’t always click in the first interaction. Sometimes it takes a few attempts, or shall I say, a few bites. I giggled with joy when I realized how symbolic this was to a time about 16 years ago when I had two pre-school aged kids at the dinner table.
I found myself catering to each of their likes and dislikes for meals, or arguing with them to eat. It was time consuming, stressful and tiring. I felt like a short order cook in a restaurant, but no-one ever paid their bill or even left a tip. Trying to please everyone’s palate was exhausting my patience,and I knew there had to be a better way, so I asked Joyce, my best friend’s mom.
“I had two choices” Joyce said. “Take it or leave it”. Ah ha! That’s how they did it in the olden days, when I was a kid.
I needed a better way, so I declared the Three Bite Rule. Everyone was served the one meal I’d prepared, and had to take three honest bites to try food they didn’t yet like. If they didn’t like it, they didn’t have to eat any more. Next time I was serving the same food, they’d get to try three bites again.
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Once the rule was in place, I enforced it gently. They’d previously been enabled, and I didn’t want the change to cause stress. I did want the kids to give things an honest try with the intention of liking more things. We made a challenge with a poster on the wall to record new foods that they’d accept on their ‘like list’.
Within a few weeks the Three Bite Rule was working well, little people were expanding their palates, and I was satiated knowing that meal prep was more efficient, my kids were being nourished, and meal time was becoming more enjoyable.
I’m sure that HR people watching this realize the similarity to trying to get some people to like other people. “Give them another chance…” the echos of HR Managers are heard.
I know we’re not eating our team mates or customers, but we’re probably trying to like them, accept them or just play nice in the business sandbox. It might take a few attempts; not everyone is tasty at first. Some people’s personalities seem too sweet, too sour or down right tough or bitter!
Maybe you’ve reached out to them with an open appetite, and they bit your head off (just a figure of speech, we should never tolerate physical violence). That’s only one bite right? What if you could have an unwritten three bite rule for people who aren’t receptive to your approach, and you could keep on trying? A second attempt to give them the benefit of the doubt? How about a third pursuit if the first two didn’t land in a good way, or weren’t received with open arms.
Rather than deciding on the first bite, whether it’s your approach or someone’s crusty response, that you don’t have an appetite for a working relationship with them, keep on sampling the possibility that you’re going to develop a pleasant relationship over time. Find other opportunities to make relationships work together, and be open to new flavours.
Don’t let one attempt at what could be a good working relationship leave a bad taste in your mouth. It may be different from your typical ways of being or doing, but it’s not necessarily wrong or bad, it’s just different. Different isn’t all that different after you’ve experienced it many times. The more we try, the more we add skills and effort over the years with different people, which helps us learn to collaborate.
Enjoy the diverse buffet that business relationships present to you, and try the Three Bite Rule. Be adventurous and savour the flavour of something new. Your Sandbox Factor will increase by expanding your palate for better relationships with people, whether they be teammates, customers or new partnerships. Keep trying. People get tastier with a dash of tolerance, a sprinkle of empathy and a spoon full of forgiveness.
Take three bites…at least, and if you need some inspiration, take me out for lunch, and let’s take a few bites together.
Remember, your greatest leadership day is with Penny Tremblay.