You have an important meeting with a client first thing tomorrow morning. The main contact, Jeremy, is unhappy with some of the deliverables on the last project. He has been a little cold and distant with you on the phone and through email recently. This is the first time he is coming in to the office in a while, and you want to try and break the ice.
According to Joshua Ackerman you should take a somewhat literal interpretation of the idea of breaking the ice. You should try to warm him up by offering him a warm coffee or tea. Use a cup or mug where he can feel the heat through his hands, and, ideally, see if you can get him to hold the beverage while you talk to him.
According to Ackerman’s research this will not only thaw out his hands, but will also make him warm up towards you. When people hold a warm cup then they feel that the person or people they are interacting with have a warmer personality. It’s called “haptic sensations” or “embodied cognition”.
Conversely, DON’T offer Jeremy a cold can of soda or ice water. That will make him judge you as having a cold personality.
Here’s the research:
Ackerman, Joshua M., Christopher Nocera, and John Bargh. 2010. “Incidental haptic sensations influence social judgments and decisions.” Science 328(5986): 1712–15. doi: 10.1126/science.1189993.
To learn more check out our 1 day seminar on The Science of Persuasion.