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ChangingMinds Blog! > Blog Archive > 21-Jan-09


Wednesday 21-January-09

The Coffee Effect

Going for coffee or tea and a nice chat has been a tradition in many countries for many years. Somehow that coziness it brings has a lubricating effect on conversation and helps people work together more effectively. But how does it work?

First, just getting out of the office or wherever is a symbolic move, possibly getting away from problems and the (often subconscious) constraining effect it has on your thinking. Then going into a warm, maybe even womb-like environment with nice smells and comfy chairs, is a relaxing, releasing experience.

Then there's the hot drink. Beyond the pleasant warmth, as the other person wraps their hands around it and looks at you, they will associate this comfort with you. And when they sip the drink and get the caffeine hit, they will associate the uplift with you. And then in future when they look at you they will more likely feel warm and uplifted.

So if that's not a great reason to grab someone and go for coffee, I don't know what is!

Your comments

This is a technique that must be brought up in the Traditional Home when you are a child. those days are LONG GONE.

-- Winter Thea Bear

Dave replies:
I disagree. 'Going for coffee' is surprisingly common.

 Now that town centers have become more common in our area, the neighborhood coffee shop has become more of a place to go for my husband and I to unwind. We can take a book or pick one up there, take our laptops, meet friends, and watch the morning go or evening come.

-- Jannie

A warm drink also raises your core temperature, which raises your morale / feelings of well being.

Having a warm drink while working also delineates the timeframe allocated to the task. You ought to have a result by the time the coffee's finished!

-- Andrew

I'm in my mid-thirties, with a number of friends in their mid-twenties. With my mid-thirties friends, I go for coffee. With my mid-twenties friends I go for Boba tea or cupcakes and chai. Slightly different venue, same end point.

Hot drinks are firmly included in the group known as "comfort foods." As such, they imbue you with a feeling of well-being as Andrew noted - also, with a feeling that you have time to relax if you are outside the standard work environment, or if you are not working at all at the moment. The good feeling rubs off on your impression of the person you're with, the relaxation rubs off on your communication efforts, and you end up taking more time to interact, which is a basic way to connect effectively. What might be watercooler talk in the office tends to be more detailed and personal in an outside venue, and builds your personal as well as your working relationship.

Definitely a positive relationship builder. One block to the relationship building with the twenty-somethings is how often they have a laptop up and are surfing on the wireless at the tea or cupcake shop - you can get around this "face-blocking" by surfing together, with both people looking at sites and whomever is driving getting questions or suggestions from the other person. These can lead into real conversational topics and a break from surfing.

-- Bekka the Alice

As a child I Remember my mom having our neighbor over for coffee, and warm conversation ensuing. Let\'s not forget the effects of the caffeine. Caffeine is uplifting, and increases our attention, helping us connect with one another. It also is a mood enhancer to some degree. And as you said, all of these effects combined, makes the participants more inclined to cooperate, in business settings, and more inclined to connect n social settings.

Going out for coffee also seems to be a precursor to going out for drinks with the high school set.

These days, it might be nice to see a return to the coffee clatch of the 1960's--the kind that were spent in the home. I know I've eliminated the number of Starbucks visits I've made over this past year, at $4.50 for a Triple tall.

-- Gloria I

Great blog. may i add that intertwined with this is the law of reciprosity occuring between the lines.

-- Bob F

Dave replies:
Quite right, Bob. I buy you coffee. You agree to my request.

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