Are you seeing your coworkers through ‘coffee goggles’?

Many people say ‘Don’t talk to me until I’ve had my first cup of coffee’ in an attempt to indicate that they are not fit for social interactions with other humans until they have some caffeine in their blood stream. It is a bit of an exaggerated statement but according to a new study, it has some real truth to it. 

Many people say “Don’t talk to me until I’ve had my first cup of coffee” in an attempt to indicate that they are not fit for social interactions with other humans until they have some caffeine in their bloodstream. It is a bit of an exaggerated statement but according to a new study, it has some real truth to it.

A new study that appears in the Journal of Psychopharmacology finds that if you have coffee before a conversation it will actually make you focus better and feel better about the people you are talking to.

The researchers, who specifically wanted to look at how coffee could impact group dynamics, did two different experiments with 134 college students they divided into groups and had discussed Occupy Wall Street for 15 minutes. The participants that had coffee before the conversation said that they found themselves focusing better.

“The study was conducted using people who consume coffee regularly,” said study author Vasu Unnava. “For these people, it looks like coffee does make them feel more alert, focuses their thinking on the topic or task at hand, and has them participate more in group tasks. So, if you are a coffee drinker, it looks like coffee helps you do better in group tasks.”

However, before you start making your team pound gallons of coffee before every meeting or group project session the study authors did note that the participants had not had coffee for a few hours before the Occupy Wall Street conversation so there is a chance the coffee they consumed for the study made them more alert. Also, the topic they discussed for the study was agreed upon by the participants beforehand.

“What the results might be if there is disagreement is an interesting issue to study further. Finally, we used only one type of task – group discussion. How coffee may affect people’s performance in other kinds of tasks (e.g., group problem solving, group physical work) is not known,” said Unnava.

So do consider grabbing a cup before you have some morning chats with your coworkers and boss but don’t drink it anytime you have to be collaborative. But, if you are looking for a drink that makes even the dullest conversations more interesting, there is this thing called alcohol.

Meredith Lepore|is the Deputy Editor of Ladders and can be reached at mlepore@theladders.com.