Coffee is such a nice way to start the day, right? Do you know that there’s a whole lot more to drinking coffee?

Apart from the task of keeping us up to speed. Going for a coffee with somebody can help you persuade them. A key reason why this works is that “having a coffee” moves the person out of any threatening formal situation and puts them into a relaxed and friendly environment. With their guard down and friendly trust increased, they are more open to suggestion. Sales people know this well and many deals have been closed over coffee, lunch or dinner.

Recent research has extended this wisdom, discovering a narcotic effect of coffee that makes a person more persuadable. To really test the changing of minds, the topics for persuasion were picked as euthanasia and abortion — two subjects on which most people have really strong views and where powerful persuasion would be normally be needed to change opinions. In the tests, where everything was kept the same other than the coffee, a significant increase in persuasion occurred, with an optimum ‘dose’ of two cups of coffee.

The basic explanation was that the caffeine increased attention to the message through the central route and hence also increased acceptance.

The implications are obvious: if you are getting into any negotiation, offer the other side coffee, but drink something else yourself! Try it!