In a canteen, there are two categories of people: People having their food in groups and people having their food alone. The latter category, I call lone-eaters. Lone-eaters are always by choice and not by circumstances or force. That is, if you have to have food alone because you could not join your friends due to some meeting, then you are not a lone-eater.
Even though I have been in both the categories, on the inside, I am a lone-eater.
Both the options have their own positives and negatives, of which I will discuss the positives.
Positives having lunch in a group:
1. Stress-relieving gossip:
The gossip during lunch, covering a variety of topics like other office colleagues, project manager, trips, TV shows, movies, traffic, etc. acts as a great stress-reliever for many.
2. Movie reviews:
Group lunch on a Monday has this added advantage. Your friends who’ve watched a movie on the weekend are sure to share their experience. A small glitch here is that some of them may reveal the spoilers too.
3. Work-related issues:
This advantage applies when your manager is also a part of your lunch group. If there are work-related problems, which otherwise could invoke a strong reaction from your manager, you can discuss them during lunch. He is likely to respond in a more subdued manner.
Positives of having lunch alone:
Eating alone is a very simple process. Get up from your desk, go to the canteen, take the food, find a nearest empty chair, finish food and back to your desk. Eating in a group involves a lot of sub-processes:
- Calling everybody to start for lunch and gathering at a place
- Deciding upon which canteen to go to (if there are conflicting views, going by the majority decision)
- Looking out for the required number of seats that can accommodate the entire group together
- Once the seats are found, shooing away others who are eyeing those ‘reserved’ seats.
- Waiting for everybody to get food
- Waiting for everybody to finish the food
2. Canteen of choice:
You can go to the canteen of your choice, keep going to different canteens every day, or even go to a nearby fast-food joint if you feel like.
You can have food when you are actually hungry, and not when the majority decides that it’s time to hit the canteen.
4. Listening skills:
In a group lunch, we speak a lot; so much so that we forget to ‘listen’. Eating food alone offers a great opportunity to eavesdrop into conversations of other groups sitting around you. It gives a great insight into the issues and opinions of others – about their projects, about their managers, the company, market scenario, or even TV serials.
Edited to add:
5. Health benefits:
My Mom suggested this one after reading this post. Talking while eating is not good for health. Hence, if you are having your food alone, the talking is minimum and hence this is a ‘healthier’ option.
PS: No offence meant to the non-lone-eaters category 🙂