If you’re not watching The Bear on Hulu, go. Now. It’s the story of Carmen Berzatto, a world-class chef who returns to his Chicago home to take over his brother’s working-class sandwich shop after his brother commits suicide.
My husband and I love it because it’s all about the restaurant business, which we’re kind of fascinated by from a team dynamics point of view (and my husband worked in a hotel and catering kitchen when he was a teen), but the family drama, tension, acting, writing, and how they make Chicago an actual character are everything. As an Italian-American myself, the family dynamics resonate! And I get to enjoy post-college nostalgia, having lived in Chicago in the mid-’90s.
Some episodes are tough to watch. Your heart will race. The arguing will stress you out. And some are so poignant, you will shed a tear. So much goodness!
Anyone who’s worked in a kitchen before knows the stress and drama. It’s real. And the show helps educate viewers on restaurant slang. One of which we might all want to employ. Carmen teaches his new head-chef Sydney a great signal to help de-escalate conversations when they get out of control.
We’ve all been in those conversations – at work or in life. They start out civil enough, then someone gets offended, the other person reacts, and pretty soon you’re both shouting over each other and no one is listening. It’s not productive, and frankly, all it results in are bad feelings and a headache.
Carmen teaches Sydney the American Sign Language sign for “I’m sorry” When he has messed up, wants to apologize, or even wants to take the temperature down in a tense conversation, he makes a fist and rubs in small circles over his heart.
There is one episode in Season 2 when they are arguing about the menu for the new restaurant they are opening. It quickly escalates. And one of them immediately uses the signal to help them both take a beat and reconnect. They are then able to constructively talk with each other again, not at each other.
What signal can you use for yourself – or create with your team – to let each other know that we recognize things are getting out of hand, and we are sorry for our behavior? How can you create a signal to reset the conversation to something more productive to move forward together?
Photo Credit: Mashed