Using warm drinks to break the ice

IMG_8671 - Version 2Most of us are aware that drinking alcohol helps to encourage interaction between strangers, but did you know that any beverage that makes you feel ‘warm’ inside can have a similar effect?

This is because we generally equate ‘warmth’ with emotions like affection, love and comfort.

As a result, it’s probably not a coincidence that the Japanese take their tea ceremonies so seriously.

And it definitely helps to explain why I love to drink coffee, port and hot chocolate with friends in front of an open fire.


Even just holding a warm drink can apparently make you act more warmly toward someone.

This theory is backed up by studies on the Internet – so it must be true (e.g. here):

“Participants who held the hot coffee cup rated this Person A as more generous, more social, happier, better natured than participants who held the iced coffee cup…”

The same study also found that holding something warm made participants feel more generous toward others.

The authors of ‘Compelling People‘ wisely urge us to not underestimate the unconscious power of such stimuli – and suggest that we can even learn to take advantage of this response.

(Do northern Europeans offer their friends mulled wine and gingerbread before Christmas in the hope of receiving better presents – but pretend that it is due to the cold weather?)


If you accept that there is a close connection between the physical and emotional sensations that you ‘feel’, does it follow that the opposite applies to cold drinks?

i.e. Can chilled non-alcoholic drinks make you feel physically cold to the extent that you are less comfortable in someone’s company?

(Hint: Have you ever talked with someone who ‘leaves you cold’?)

And could offering spicy drinks at a work function or social engagement help to connect people in the absence of warm or alcoholic options?

(Iced chai tea or dry ginger ale, anyone?)


Or if you are on a date, had you ever considered that the future of your budding relationship might hinge on whether you and your prospective partner order the soup or a salad?*

I wonder if ‘hostesses with the mostess’ intuitively know to serve warm or spicy dishes to their guests?

Food for thought, hey?



* Anyone who read my post about Pho (or Fuh) knows that I would probably not recommend this dish for a first date – even if it is hot and spicy. (here)


 Photo credits:
  • Chai Tea Cocktail © Viola Joyner via (ID 16211484 )
  • Other pics – Pip Marks

Categories: Personal development

Tags: , , , , , ,

6 replies

  1. I once heard a wilderness survival coach say that one of the first things you should do in an emergency is boil some water, even if you don’t have anything to put in it (tea, coffee, powdered soup or whatever). Give people a hot drink, and they immediately feel “cared for” – even if all you can give them is water. I suppose that must be the same effect at work.

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