Whenever I’m offered coffee in a meeting, I say yes. Even if I don’t want one.
I know it’s not cool to admit it but I quite enjoy the last few drops of the ice cold coffee that lie in wait at the bottom of a cup at the end of a business meeting. They have an “I’m-ready-to-leave-and-be-on-my-way” taste about them. An acquired flavour for sure and one I discovered quite by accident.
My weekend coffee is another matter; piping hot, brewed perfectly and preferably grown on an ecologically sustainable plantation by fairly paid workers (have I missed anything?). But in a work setting my coffee standards are rather different.
The first time I accepted a hot drink (to be honest I can’t remember if it was tea or coffee) at a business meeting it was in response to “I’m having a coffee, would you like one too?” offer from the customer I was meeting about his office phones. “Great,” I thought, “a cuppa will be lovely”. And as the meeting progressed I realised that the mood was quite relaxed as we sipped away whilst discussing the relative merits of two different telephone systems.
This was the start of the “great coffee experiment” I conducted over the next few years of my sales career. Where I found that not only did accepting a refreshment make the meeting more relaxed it also gave some natural structure to it’s pace. Small talk (relationship building!) until the coffee arrived, a segue into the business discussion as the coffee is stirred and then down to business.