Coffee as Social Lubricant and Occupier of Time

In more than one of the offices in which I worked I was offered coffee flavored with cardamom called qahwa (hoping I remember this name correctly; the flavors are complex and intense). It was a way for the host to extend a welcome courtesy upon arrival and provide a warm-up to meetings or planned activities. It took me awhile to become accustomed to framing time as an Arab might – schedules are not necessarily fixed and rigid, and business engagements are as much about strengthening relationships as they are about resolving matters at hand. BTW, my local contact Husam Atout gave me a substantial quantity of instant qahwa that I’m happy to share – just reach out to me (quantities are limited!)

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ACTION ITEM: I’ve encountered this critical importance placed on social relationships in places other than the Middle East – in Asia, for example. When you plan business meeting in places like these, be sure to factor in plenty of additional time for social pleasantries; you’ll not only be more successful but you’ll also have a better time.

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