The Power of Chocolate

Go to Pier 1 or a suitable facsimile thereof and purchase ye a basket or a bowl, deep, and about 10 to 14 inches across. Make it something that fits your office decor. Then go to Godiva or some other confection supplier and purchase a stock of small, individually packaged chocolates. Good stuff - none of that cheap crap you pass out at Halloween. Put it on the corner of your desk closest to the door.

The first colleague who notices it will ask what the chocolate is for. Tell them that it's free to anyone who wants some. They will likely laugh and leave. The second person who looks at your chocolate collection will ask if your kids are selling it for school. Tell them no, it's free to anyone who wants some. When they ask if that's really true, tell them yes and suggest a particular piece. Smile.

The third person to arrive will say that they heard that you 'have free candy or something'. Tell them yes, and that you believe chocolate is good for the soul. They'll take a piece, maybe two, and go tell everyone in the building.

When a woman (it will always be a woman) says it looks good but she can't take one because because because... What she really wants is not only your permission, but your coercion, so that she can tell herself later that you made her take it. Remind her that chocolate has healthful antioxidants, plus the pieces are so small, plus she's earned it.

Refill the bowl on the day it is empty.

The reasons why you will do this:

  • Everyone will come see you - even people who don't like you. As a result, you have an opportunity to ask anyone anything about what's going on in the company.
  • If someone is angry at you, they will show up at your desk angry, but the chocolate will mitigate their ire. They're still mad, but they also want a piece of chocolate, and they can't in good conscience chew you out too much if they expect to get one.
  • It really does make everyone happier. If they're having a bad day, it gives them hope. If they're tired, it's a bit of energy at 2:30pm. If they just accomplished something, it's a way to reward themselves and mark the occasion. And on and on.

You will have a much happier company, and for a fraction of the cost of increasing employee benefits. A chocolate coating take the edge off most things - stress levels decrease and people seem much more tolerant of each other. Plus it's hard to dislike the guy who gave you a Key Lime Truffle right after your presentation bombed.

When you refill, change up what's in your basket / bowl. The key to this strategy is variety. If you have the same thing every day, the people who don't actually like your selections have one more reason to stay away. But if what you have changes every week, they'll stop by just in case you happen to have added some chocolate covered pretzels with cinnamon.

It's not a cost of doing business. It's an investment in a happier, more cohesive office.

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