We were recently doing an outdoor training session on a very warm day, with leaders from a ‘high-end’ service organization. We threw a bag of mixed mini chocolate bars on the water cooler as an after thought, just in case a small snack might be needed. As the group was doing a team building activity, one of the participants noticed the bag of chocolate and teasingly asked why we hadn’t passed it out yet – they wanted the chocolate.

We thought it probably wouldn’t be wanted because it was a warm day and this team has a very sophisticated palate due to the nature of their work and the service they provide. So, we brought the simple plastic bag of chocolate out and within the remaining 90 minutes, the chocolate was devoured – younger, older, men and woman alike. They all wanted the chocolate.

Lesson Learned:
There were a few key lessons that we learned from this experience.
1. Never assume. You need to ask people what they need or want to understand what they value.
2. Recognition doesn’t have to be fancy. It can be something as simple as passing out mini chocolate bars in a meeting or offering popsicles on a hot day.
3. People like to be recognized. Recognized that hey have had a tough day, have worked hard or have a lot going on. We all have a lot on our plate, and when someone lets you know they ‘see it’ or ‘get it’ in some small way, it can go a long way to help them through the day. In our example, most of the team hadn’t had time for lunch, were tired and hungry and were grateful that we had thought to pack a little chocolate as a ‘pick-me-up to help them get through the next few hours.
4. You never know what someone else might be dealing with and how that might influence their behaviour or performance. Compassion is critical to mobilizing others. In our example, the team was able to complete some great work right up to the end of the session.
Although it’s not just about the chocolate, we do want to share not only our own ability to be motivated by a piece of chocolate, but some other facts about the sweet treat that might interest you. In a recent article posted on BBC, it stated that Eric Cornell, who won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2001, told Reuters: “I attribute essentially all my success to the very large amount of chocolate that I consume.” If your still not convinced, here are some interesting facts about chocolate from gourmethealthychocolates.com.
• It is estimated that approximately 1 billion people eat chocolate every day.
• The average American consumes 12 pounds of chocolate a year.
• The average European consumes 15 pounds of chocolate a year.
• Nine out of ten people love chocolate.
• Fifty percent of the population cannot live without chocolate every day.
• Chocolate is known to increase serotonin and dopamine.
• The topic of chocolate is universal.
• Chocolate in its raw form is the highest antioxidant food on the planet.
• Theobromine is a natural ingredient that is a safer alternative as compared to caffeine and is a vasodilator which opens the blood vessels that helps reduce blood pressure and may even help with high cholesterol.
• Chocolate helps curb your appetite and has been proven to help you lose weight.

So, don’t underestimate the power of a small gesture….one that might include a small chocolate ????