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Caffeine is only the beginning. Coffee is powerful. Use it wisely.

Now that Labor Day has come and gone in the U.S., it’s time to dive back in to our final third of the year.

But we don’t want to sprain anything upon said dive – so let’s think about how we can ease back in. Gently. Strategically. And with all the caffeine required.

We’re big fans of and believers in the power of the strategic coffee break. Beyond a pause in a busy day, utilized with intention, a coffee break can be just the thing to help move you forward.

How to do it well? Just read below to find our five favorite objectives of a strategic coffee break. Whatever your intention, be sure to choose the right person to offer the outcome you’re seeking.

And hey – coffee anyone?

1. Learn a new part of the business.

I see this play out in client organizations time and again. The marketing professionals who deeply understand product and customer service; the product developers who truly get the financial drivers and legal constraints – these are the most well-rounded and ultimately successful practitioners of their craft. The more we understand about the whole of the business, the more successful we can be. So tap into the expertise of someone working on the other side of your world.

2. Test an idea.

Maybe you’ve been noodling on something – a new product? A possible improvement on an existing process? A new market to pursue? Sometimes bouncing your good idea off of someone else can help turn it into a great idea. Use your coffee time to get their input and feedback before you pitch it.

3. Run a dress rehearsal.

Have a big meeting coming up? An interview? Ask your coffee partner if they’d mind if you practiced with them. Use your time as a safe space to rehearse some of your key points. Invite them to role-play – ask you questions so you can practice responding. And you’ll show up to the actual performance way more confident.

4. Show your wares.

In the least icky way possible, sometimes a coffee break is just a great opportunity for you to show off a little bit. Not in a used car salesperson kind of way – but an opportunity for you to connect with someone you admire, and initiate a conversation that allows you to show them the thought, curiosity, and critical thinking you’ve given a topic. Don’t force a conversation into a corner, but let them know upfront you’d like to talk through this topic with them. Ask great questions and listen for sure, but use the time to let them start to see you as a subject matter expert. Over time – you never know. They might become a mentor, an advocate, or even eventually your next boss should a role open up.

5. Get a second opinion.

The thing about organizations is they all have rules. Some are written. But many are not. And sometimes we find ourselves in a situation we’re not sure how to navigate. Maybe you’ve had some conflict with your boss, or one of your direct reports is struggling and not taking feedback well, or maybe you’ve had a difficult customer interaction you’re looking to right. Coffee breaks provide wonderful opportunity for you to talk things through. Ask your guest how they might handle – or even better – whether they’ve faced something similar beforehand. Learning from someone else’s real-life experience can be one of the most rewarding and effective means of development.