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Why I Like Coffee Meetings

May 9, 2017 | by Brian P. Gilman, CLM

I guess we all have a tendency to spend time doing the things we most enjoy. No doubt, I love investing time in the “big things” in my life – my family, best friends, other kindred spirits, time in the Word. These are a priority for me. But, I’m sure like you, it is the small things that add a layer of pleasure, enhancing the colors and flavor of our life. My list includes a glass of quality red wine, a well-written book, dark chocolate, a movie that makes me think, Pellegrino with lime/no ice, and – you guessed it – a really good cup of coffee. While I admit with age I’ve shifted toward the “snob” end of the spectrum in terms of what coffee provides true pleasure, I have coincidentally evolved in appreciating coffee as more than just the sensory delight of a good brew. For me, the coffee experience is just as much about where, and with whom, it is partaken, as it is the quality of the bean.

In my experience, coffee can best be enjoyed in two ways. The first is in solitude. Like early on a Saturday morning, when even the pup is still sleeping, and its just you and the inspiration of the Word or a good book/article. The warmth of a steaming mug is the perfect companion on a chilly morning with no one to disturb your thoughts.

The other way is sharing a cup over conversation with others. Whether its family, close friends or business colleagues, gathering over coffee has the ability to create engagement in a way few other situations do. While I’m not sure I can fully explain it, coffee meetings invariably forge an openness of conversation with the person across the cup from me – one that leads to more intimate communication, which in turn forges deeper understanding.

In a business context, there are multiple advantages. Coffee meetings invariably occur prior to the beginning of regular work hours, adding a level of efficiency by avoiding a loss of work-hour productivity, with the added plus of combining it with a personal enjoyment. The vibe of the coffee shop also tends to soften protocol and facilitate the building of actual relationship – the cornerstone of career and business development. Additionally, meeting for coffee, as opposed to lunch, provides an implicit expectation of limited time commitment – a meeting that is a “fail” can be easily truncated in a half hour or less without any breach of proper etiquette, yet preserves an open-ended contingency to extend when genuine conversation arises.

So whenever an appropriate opportunity presents, where at least one meeting objective is to connect personally, I’ll suggest grabbing a cup of coffee. Typically, both the brew and the conversation are good to the last drop.

Brian Gilman is Chief Operating Officer and serves as the firm's chief financial and operations officer. He is a member of the firm’s Executive Committee, responsible for strategic planning and business development of the law firm. Brian has over 30 years of experience, including nearly 15 years in legal management. He is a Certified Legal Manager and currently serves on the Board of Directors for the International Association of Legal Administrators. Brian is the former President of the Raleigh-Durham Chapter of the Association of Legal Administrators and former Board Chair of an international non-profit organization. He currently serves on the North Carolina Bar Association Transitioning Lawyers Commission, Midtown Raleigh Alliance, and BB&T Payment Solutions Advisory Board....LEARN MORE

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