Food as a Negotiation Tool

 ICLEF’s Notes on Negotiation
Written by Marty Latz, Latz Negotiation Institute

A recent New York Times article, Diplomacy Travels on Its Stomach, Too, highlights Hillary Clinton’s attempts to transform “the way food is chosen, cooked and served at the [State Department’s] headquarters… as an important part of what she calls ‘smart diplomacy.’”  Appropriate food choices, Mrs. Clinton points out, “cultivate a stronger cultural understanding between countries and offer a unique setting to enhance the formal diplomacy we conduct every day.”

Good negotiators have long recognized the power of food to influence the negotiation environment.  Psychologist Gregory Razran, whose 1930s research found his subjects developed a more favorable view of the people and things they experienced while they were eating, coined the term “luncheon technique” to describe food’s positive effect.

So when preparing for your next critical negotiation, consider sharing a meal with your counterpart before or as part of the process.  And keep in mind that healthy eating will help you avoid making rash decisions because of hunger or fatigue.


Marty Latz is the founder of Latz Negotiation Institute, a national negotiation training and consulting company, and ExpertNegotiator, a Web-based software company that helps managers and negotiators more effectively negotiate and implement best practices based on the experts’ proven research.  He is also the author of Gain the Edge! Negotiating to Get What You Want (St. Martin’s Press 2004). He can be reached at 480-951-3222 or

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