Candy or other treats in the office.
According to science, food provides nutritional support to the body. A tasty sugary treat provides short term emotional support to the body - not nutritional. As Kevin's kitty treats provide him with morsels of happiness, our sweet or savory treats give us our dose of instant medicated pleasure.
In trying to resist the colourful and flirtatious advances of the holiday candy at my desk, I think of every reason why their wrapper should not be torn open to reveal their inner treasure. However, at the slightest spike of adrenaline enduced by a one hour deadline, there is no time to think - only to react. My hand lunges for a candy and my fingers furiously paw the crinkly coating unveiling the chocolatey goodness beneath. The satisfaction of the candy is short-lived. My mouth feels soggy and defiled after the sugar infusion diffuses. Only water will dull the aftertaste. 20. min go by and I am cranky that I succumbed to such an impulsive need. 20 min. after that, the candy's twin stares at me with loneliness. "Leave no candy behind!", my tastebuds shout.
A co-worker comes along and observes me and my lone tempter. I gleefully point to the candy dish in the center work pod. I am excited that I can bring someone else on my emotional journey to Candyland. The cycle continues throughout the rest of the day. The dish becomes empty with several different hands reaching for their fix.
Food is social. There must have been great rejoice and celebration when Og and Zog brought the Sabertooth home for dinner. There is comfort in the kitchen with the familiar smells of our favourite dishes. There is excitement of exotic meals that monentairly transport us to another place. We have lunch with co-workers to safely talk about uncomfortable issues, we make business deals over brunch, and network over h'dourves.
Fruit still vanishes from the office lunch room on Fruit Day supporting the theory that it just isn't the candied treats motivating our emotional desires. I haven't seen a Christmas Veggie Cake, or Carrot Brittle, or Banaimo Bars in the staff kitchen yet, but there is evidence that these too would be eaten by some. The excuse to get out from behind our desk and take a tour about the office and go find a snack is great. Sugar or not, it is about food.
Treats or a cup of coffee bought for someone on your team can mean a lot - it is a simple gesture of gratitude and appreciation. Food is a human essential and therefore it is a symbol of life and well being wanting to be shared.
Kevin sits back on his hind quarters with his front paws reaching for me when I offer him a treat. I work efficiently to complete my task and walk to the candy jar for my reward. Is this bad reward behaviour? I don't think so. I will just need to practice not reaching for the second one....or third....or fourth..
Fiona Warren - 17 years experience with large high-profile projects and teams.