Break bread together: A rule of thumb for good collaboration

Have a meal together.

Why it matters

Eating together helps people connect; helps bond individuals into a collaborative whole.

It doesn’t matter what it is that you do, you need something to bring the team together, something that says we’re special, we value each other, and we’re in this together.

Food, dress, ceremony, celebration, rituals are developed around these types of things.  When we carry out these rituals, we are behaving as expected.  We are acknowledging that we belong to this group.  We are respecting others in the group.

In some cultures, rituals are the bedrock of relationships; e.g., nothing happens without first eating together.  When I summarized my experiences in the the Philippines with collaboration, I would say the #1 factor (in Philippines) in running a successful, collaborative project just might be sharing a meal together.  And, in Russia, or Korea, or maybe your local First Nations band council?  Is it much different?

Rituals give us a way to appreciate the things we share in common; a way to bridge our differences.  To bridge differences, we may need to change our mind, or at least part of our mind.  There are many things to consider when you have to change minds to reach agreement.

When times are tough, rituals can be how we come together as a team, renew our spirits, and refocus our energy on the challenge ahead.  Think of breaking bread and the act of communion.

Tight-knit communities have learned, survived, and prospered, by working and playing together.

Is ritual part of your action plan?

In my town there is an ongoing conflict about what to do with an old bridge in the middle of town.  Victoria’s Battle of the Blue Bridge is not over.  Decisions still need to be made.  Consensus still needs to be reached.  What if the consensus building action plan included line items for breaking bread!?

What action item do you have, in your organization, or on your project team, for breaking bread?

How do you respect the role of ritual?

If you enjoyed this post, please consider leaving a comment or subscribing to my blog. Thanks, Ben.

Photo Credit: The U.S. Army


  1. Dave Rattray says


    I have just finished reading ‘Three Cups of Tea’, so todays blog really fitted in where I am right now.

    Thanks for this and your other blogs, which I recently learned about and am now a subscriber.


  2. Thanks Dave. Appreciate your interest in my blog. I’ve read Three Cups of Tea too. Great story. Astute of you to make the connection with that book and this post.

  3. Padmini Krishnan says

    Love your views, posts on collaboration…one of the most important aspect of work and life today…thanks lot.

  4. Thanks Padmini.

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