I was reminded of this rule recently when I interviewed Stephanie Palmer who has written a book titled Good in a Room. As part of my preparation for the talk, I downloaded a pdf of “Top Ten Tips” from her website. Number one on the list, and my rule of the day, is: Accept the water. As Stephanie says, “You should always accept hospitality—it warms up the room and gets things off to a good start.”
In her case, she’s talking about being in a meeting, trying to sell something to someone. But this applies to all aspects of life. I think this notion first occurred to me when I was hitchhiking around Europe when I was a younger person. As a hitchhiker, you have nothing. A pack on your back and the clothes you’re wearing. And the people who pick you up have a car and the money to buy gas and all that and they frequently wanted to share whatever else they had. They often offered you something to eat or drink and I quickly learned that turning down something offered put a slight chill on the situation. You know, it’s you and this other person in a small space. You want to do whatever you can to keep things “warm,” as Stephanie says.