What Cup of Coffee makes us Perform at our Best?

Any coffeeholic knows how enjoyable a good cup of brew is. It makes you feel a sense of comfort, it tastes good, it kickstarts your day, and for some, it is somewhat nostalgic of peace and focus. But what if we equate a good cup of coffee with the question ‘How are you?’ These words, when truly meant, are often the ‘openers’ for good conversations, good connection and ultimately a great relationship.

I often think back to my first cup of coffee, when my grandpa sat me down and asked me how I was. We spoke about the simple things, things that cost no money; the small acts of human kindness, these acts where we find our connection to each other. For this lesson, I will be eternally grateful.

Why? Because when we give a cup of coffee, get a cup of coffee or observe somebody giving /receiving a cup of coffee, we get a hit of oxytocin. Oxytocin is the hormone that helps us build relationships. In these small acts of human kindness, relationships are forged.

In the last decades, the technological improvements mean that we can now compare genetic studies to behaviour, biological markers and components to observations and do this at a scale that is unprecedented. Gone are the days of a study containing 30 or 40 participants, and in are the studies with 100 000 people from around the world. In one fell swoop psychology is going from theoretical based science to proofs and validations. With enough participants, outcomes-based research is showing us areas unexplored in studying the human condition.

So we know now there is a gene for seeing how others feel, we know there are feedback loops that govern our behaviour, our motivation and our connection to others.

When a mother or fathers plays with a baby we now know the oxytocin connections are at work and will forever alter the neural pathways in the brain of the caregiver.

If scientists know all this, why don’t we? Why are we not yet using all of the knowledge we have access to, to enable relationships that work, at work?

In today’s world, we are seeing companies and employees having to shift the way in which they work to adapt in uncertain times. When there are stressors in an organisation, we find an abundance of cortisol. Cortisol is our stress hormone. It separates us and at the same time also reduces our executive functions. Simply put, we lose 30+ percent of our ability to; think creatively, plan and prioritise our tasks, control our emotions and initiate tasks. Why not use this as an analyses tool? Where do you see people in your organisation complaining that everything seems to be a priority? Where is there a team where there is constant discord? Where is someone suffering from inertia and not seeming to start things? These are all indications of where stress is prevalent, where cortisol is robbing people of their best selves

How DO we combat the rising levels cortisol that so many organisations experience?

How can we achieve this during a time of strain and uncertainty?

Well, it comes back to a cup of coffee. Oxytocin is our easiest and most effective way to combat cortisol.

It starts with ‘a cup of coffee’ – a random act of kindness, connecting with our peers and being present in the moment. This is our first step. Are you ready to take it?

Challenge: Commit to giving a cup of coffee, Find the person you least talk to and present them with a random act of kindness. Start with a beverage and seek a new one each day!

Are you willing to find out where this could lead? Do you want more friendship, trust, connection and ultimately a happier environment around you? Could you see the value in the bonuses you can get? Think of what you and those around you can do with more creativity, clearer priorities, less discord, and more self-starters. Let's work on this together.

Here is a list of 101+ ideas for small acts of non-transactional human kindness. We are always gathering more. Submit yours to: empathy@exponentially.me

Till that next cup of coffee.

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