How are professional chefs coping with the changes brought about by Covid-19?

More than anything it impacted the work force in a huge way, especially those industries such as hospitality and food service.

While the pandemic and country-wide lockdowns closed down restaurants and hotels, and locked out chefs and other staff, it was a time where people reflected and wondered about what would come next. These people who were used to a busy life, with their chef whites and cook shirts on, working almost twelve to fifteen hours a day during busy times, suddenly found themselves with nothing to do.

Many people, left with nothing to keep them occupied, even went into severe depression, while others tried their best to make most of the situation, like spending more time with their families at home (which they did not get while working), or even starting their own ventures such as food delivery. Many offered their services to provide meals and service to frontline workers who were working tirelessly during the pandemic. Some restauranteurs even kept their businesses open, preparing food for delivery orders as well as helping out those in need, so that they ensured their staff would not be out of a job.

Some chefs, especially those who operated their own restaurants, took off their fancy Toques and put on their thinking caps, coming up with revolutionary ideas to implement when the country opened up again and they would be able to serve customers in their restaurants. There certainly was a general understanding that things would never be the same as they were before, hence they knew that the business of operating a restaurant or other eatery would take a 180-degree turnaround to accommodate new rules and regulations in terms of safety, cleanliness and hygiene.

Some chefs even went as far as creating inspirational videos and session for those who needed it, and worked for many other social causes as well.

However almost everyone has survived this unexpected situation in their own way, and we are sure are looking forward to days when things will go back to the days when they will have guests to greet and serve and cook for in their restaurants.

Making Negotiation Win-Win

Using current negotiation models, people feel they are giving up more than they want in exchange for receiving less than they deserve. As part of standard practice, negotiation partners going into a negotiation calculate their bottom line – what they are willing to give up, and what they are willing to accept – and then fight, argue, cajole, or threaten when their parameters aren’t met. People have been killed for this. But there is another way.

In 1997, Bill Ury and I had to read each other’s books in preparation for working together for KPMG. A week before our introductory lunch meeting in Santa Fe, I read his book Getting To Yes (where BATNA – Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement – originated), marked the areas I disagreed with in red, and sent the marked book back to Bill. There was a lot of red: his book teaches how to get what you want (potentially win-lose) rather than how everyone can walk away satisfied (win-win). After comparing our models and a very interesting discussion about the different outcomes between a win-win and a win-lose negotiation, he agreed with me and we worked with KPMG using a win-win model.

BELIEFS

Win-lose is an incongruity. Using benchmarks for ethics and integrity, if one person loses, everyone loses – hence there is only win-win or lose-lose. Yet in the typical negotiation process it’s hard to find a win when the ‘things’ being bartered are not ‘things’ at all but representations of unconscious, subjective beliefs and personal values (termed Criterial Equivalents in NLP) without either negotiation partner fully understanding the underlying values these items represent to the other: a house in the country might represent a lifetime goal to one person, and just a place to live to another; a $1,000,000 settlement might illustrate payback for a lost, hard-won reputation to one person, and extortion to another. When much younger, I spent a fortune on a 14K gold waist chain, believing that this decadent indulgence defined me as ‘making it.’ Seriously.

It’s possible to take the negotiation beyond the ‘things’ being bartered, away from the personal and chunk up to find mutually shared values agreeable to both – and then find ‘things’ that represent them. So it might be initially hard to agree who should get ‘the house’, but it might be possible to agree that it’s important everyone needs a safe place to live.

FOCUS ON SHARED VALUES FIRST

Try this:

  1. enter the negotiation with a list of somewhat generic high-level values that are of foundational importance, such as Being Safe; Fair Compensation;
  2. share lists and see where there is agreement. Where there is no agreement, continue chunking up higher until a set of mutually comfortable criteria are found. A chunk up from Fair Compensation might be ‘Compensation that Values Employees’
  3. list several possible equivalents that match each agreeable criterion. So once Compensation that Values Employees is agreed upon during a salary negotiation, each partner should offer several different ways it could be achieved, such as a higher salary, or extra holidays, or increased paid training days, or a highly sought-after office, or higher royalties;
  4. continue working backward – from agreement with high-level, foundational criteria, down to the details and choices that might fulfill that goal, with all parties in agreement.

Discussions over high level values are often more generic, and far less likely to set off tempers than arguments over ‘things’: if nothing else, it’s easier for negotiation partners to listen to each other without getting defensive. And once values are attended to and people feel heard they become more flexible in the ‘things’ they are willing to barter: once Compensation that Values Employees is agreed to, it’s possible to creatively design several choices for an employee to feel fairly valued without an employer stretching a tight budget.

Think about negotiations as a way to enhance relationships rather than a compromise situation or a way for someone to win. There is nothing to be won when someone loses.

Enjoy the Present Moment With Flow

Present moment is the only moment we have yet a lot of people miss the point and continue to live in past or future. With a little practice we can teach our minds to live in the present.

It is a universal fact that the only moment we have is the present moment yet lot of people live either in the past or in the future. Thus wasting a lot of their energy on the things they have no control over. The key to focus all our energy is to live in the present moment only. The best way to do that is to be involved in a “flow” activity. Flow is defined by the Psychologists as a phenomenon by which we lose contact of our surroundings and also our time. Our brain is quite and we are totally absorbed in that activity at that time. The good news is that it is very easy to achieve flow. It can be achieved from any activity that interests us a lot like reading an absorbing novel, watching your favorite TV show, enjoying your favorite hobby etc. It can be anything which is absorbing and which makes you forget anything. During that activity time just flies away and you do not notice at all!

Thus if you want to be totally present in the NOW, do some activity which creates flow. It can be any simple and interesting activity that absorbs you completely in the present and lets it forget you totally about the past and future.