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Do you start your day with a jolt of coffee? “Connecting over coffee” and using coffee breaks strategically to build relationships is something leaders do. Coffee breaks give you a chance to chat about subjects in a more neutral, friendly environment. 

 It turns out that building relationships is not the only win to that java hit. Research tells us there are other benefits to that caffeine jolt and it affects how your brain perceives certain words, and that affects how you communicate.

Research suggests how to perk up processing positive words

Research recently published in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Lars Kuchinke and colleagues from Ruhr University, Germany, suggests that caffeine perks up how your neurons process positive words. When it comes to neutral or negative words, however, caffeine has no significant impact on how they’re noticed and interpreted by your brain.

What does this mean?

Kuchinke’s study suggests if you have 200 mg of caffeine — about 2 to 3 cups of coffee — you’re going to better notice positive words and language in conversations. This is useful if you’re going into a discussion that you know is going to be riddled with negativity, grab the java (cola or dark chocolate), focus on the positive, and the caffeine will help you to recognize the upbeat words and phrases. This will prompt you to put a positive spin on the conversation and what you take away from it.


When you’re struggling to find the positive in a conversation, this extra jolt of awareness may help.

Conversely, if you’re meeting with a negatory, someone who is quick to zone in on the negative, why not have a cuppa coffee 30 minutes before you discuss the thorny issue? Or better yet, discuss it over coffee in a neutral area like a coffee shop. This study suggests the caffeine consumed will increase both your and their speed and accuracy for recognizing words with positive connotations. It will help both of you see the positive.

Like any research, these results may not be conclusive and someone somewhere will challenge them. In the meantime, if having a bit of caffeine doesn’t harm and it might help, why not give it a go?

The researchers suggest that the caffeine has a strong effect on the dopamine your body creates (think “feel good” brain chemicals, and they’re legal and free!) in the language-dominant sections of your brain. The impact is that you are better able to recognize the use of positive words.

Being positive helps to build relationships.

The building of relationships contributes to workplace productivity. Suddenly, coffee machines in workplaces make so much more sense. Finally, a scientific reason to take a coffee break. You’re welcome ;o)

© 2012 Marion Grobb Finkelstein

©2022 Marion Grobb Finkelstein (MarionSpeaks)

Marion Grobb Finkelstein
Keynote Speaker / Corporate Trainer / Author
Recipient of APEX “Award for Leadership in Service Innovation” 
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Leadership communication expert, Marion Grobb Finkelstein shows leaders at any level how to build resilient and respectful workplaces by changing how they communicate. Chat with her at or and sign up for her FREE “Marion’s Communication Tips” at

Post your comments and reactions below. What about this article resonates with YOU?

Marion Grobb Finkelstein

Marion Grobb Finkelstein helps leaders use their natural communication strengths to build resilient teams that talk.


  • Sharon Orr says:

    This is a great website Marion, which doesn’t surprise me because you’re an excellent communicator, both online and in person. You are clear, concise, insightful and enthusiastic. Keep those important messages coming. And stay healthy.
    Sharon O

    • Thank you Sharon. I really appreciate your comments, especially given your background in senior management for a national organization, having been a business owner, and being a skilled communicator yourself. I value you and your feedback. Thank you for speaking up!

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