Billions of dollars are spent daily on colleagues, friends, and families joining one another for lunch. In the minds of most, lunch is innocent, necessary, and an opportunity to relax and insert a break into our taxing and busy days. Well, the innocence deteriorates when others pay close attention to who's accompanying you for lunch. It is the craziest thing but believe it or not, who's joining you for lunch can have an impact in your life.
Society consistently reminds us to "be aware of our surroundings". This awareness includes in the work place environment. Don't think for a second that your co-workers are not monitoring who has lunch together on a regular basis. Although peers monitor lunch companions, we can dispel any rumors that may attempt to arise by being mindful of 3 simple things...Perception, Equality, and Frequency.
A person's perception, if not controlled, will quickly become their reality. If a person perceives you spend too much time with someone, then in their mind, you spend too much time with that someone. The more they think about it, the more the perception becomes reality and true for them. Meditating on perceptions become harmful when the perception is transferred from the cognitive home of the brain and released through one's speech to others. The perception is now infectious and will set up camp in any mind willing to accept it. Once the perception is spoken and accepted by another, then the vicious cycle begins again and intensifies as the newly infected person takes the leap and decides to verbally share the perception with another...cyclical in process but deadly in nature. We can disrupt negative perception by ensuring we're equitable with whom we share our lunchtime.
We all have favorite friends and colleagues to associate with outside the office but during the workday, make sure we mix our company. Don't always have lunch with the same 4 people. Consistent socialization with the same group will quickly cause the group to be labeled as a clique! Now be honest with yourself, if you hear the term clique in the workplace, the majority of us immediately receive the word in a negative connotation. As a result, few want to be associated with such a group. Change the flavor of you lunch bunch. Variety is a great thing. Most of us refuse to have the same meal for lunch every day, why not refuse having the same company at lunch every day as well.
Finally, be mindful of the frequency you spend with a particular person or group, especially if you're in a leadership role. Leaders can't afford the perception of favoritism and if there is no visible balance in frequency, then leaders are heading down a path that will be detrimental later. Mix up your lunch routines and those you decide to accompany or those who will accompany you. The last thing you want to hear from subordinates, is "Boss Lady/Man has lunch with Section A, every Thursday, I can't remember the last time we've had dedicated time with her/him unless something's wrong."
The simple reminder of perception, equality, and frequency when enjoying the wonderful meal of lunch will avoid tons of strife in the workplace. Smoothies are wonderful because so many wonderful nutrients are mixed together...do the same with your lunch bunch, have variety but understand that the variety will be nurturing and not a detriment.