Want a pay rise? Try inviting your boss for coffee

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Anna Brech
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A warming caffeine fix is the way to win over your manager, according to recently unearthed research

There are many ways to go into a pay rise negotiation, but taking your boss for a coffee may not be top of the list.

However, doing so can have a powerful effect on the unconscious - and may just sway the whole process to your favour, according to the findings of a nine-year-old study revisited in a Fast Company article this week.

Writer Lydia Dishman says the effect all comes down to something known as “embodied cognition” - meaning the way in which your brain reacts to physical cues in making decisions (without you realising it). 

“In the case of the warm cup, researchers such as John Bargh of Yale did a series of experiments to prove that touching different objects has the power to influence perception,” Dishman writes. 

In one such study, participants were briefly handed cups of coffee, either iced or warm, before being asked to rate the personality of a stranger they chatted to for a short time (volunteers weren’t aware that the cup was significant). 

Those handed a warm cup consistently rated the other person more favourably, describing them as “being more generous, more sociable”. 

In the same series of experiments, researchers also found other connections between tactile influences and the judgements we make about the people we’re with.

“Heavy objects made job candidates appear more important, rough objects made social interactions appear more difficult, and hard objects increased rigidity in negotiations,” the authors wrote, pointing to a metaphorical relationship between the sensations we feel, and the way that we read certain situations.

All this should mean that when you go in for a pay rise, handing your boss a smooth, round cup of warm coffee might help pave the way to a smoother negotiation.

Of course, the same could be said for tea: but since coffee taps into the brain’s pleasure system, with the release of the “feel-good hormone” dopamine, it seems like a better bet. 

And sure, it may feel tenuous: but isn’t everything when your tip-toeing around the tricky subject of salary

When all cards are in the air, a good coffee can’t go amiss. Add the happiness effect of a novel environment into the mix (your local café) and you may just be onto a winner…

Images: Getty


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Anna Brech

Anna Brech is a freelance journalist and former editor for Her six-year stint on the site saw her develop a vociferous appetite for live Analytics, feminist opinion and good-quality gin in roughly equal measure. She enjoys writing across all areas of women’s lifestyle content but has a soft spot for books and escapist travel content.