12 Cups of Tea

By Beatrice Calvin, MACMH, CDF

Recently, I read an article entitled 50 Cups of Coffee. The author talked about meeting with a different person each week to have focused “discussions about an idea you’re both interested in, or where the other person can give you input on something they like discussing.” After a bit of reading, I discovered that this is not a new concept. Basically, it involves meeting with someone you’re not overly familiar with for a short period of time (say 15-20 minutes) over coffee for various reasons (i.e. to make a sales pitch, discuss a new project, find a mentor, etc.).  

Well since I’m a tea drinker, I decided to put my own spin on the idea and suggest you meet over tea. The purpose would be to get to know someone new, to make connections with others through brief, non-stressful conversations. However, if you’re an introvert like I am, the idea of talking with a new person every week could seem overwhelming. Meeting with so many new people could become too stressful. So, I thought, “Why not do the same thing on a smaller scale?”  How about having a cup a tea with a different person once a month? Just twelve new people instead of fifty. That could feel more reasonable and be less intimidating.

There are several instances where using this method of getting to know new people could be beneficial. For example, some people who have been on their jobs for several years, often complain about all the new people that they don’t know. Instead of complaining, why not take the time to get to know some of the new people? How about sharing some of your knowledge and expertise with a few of the newer staff members over tea?

You could send a brief email saying who you are, what department you work in, and invite the new person to take a break with you over a cup of tea (ok, you can have coffee or hot chocolate if you so desire).  If you’re afraid that the meeting could be awkward, have a question or two in mind to start the conversation. You could ask simple questions such as, “What did you do this summer that was different or exciting?” Or “Where did you attend school?” Or, you could make it work related and ask something like, “What do you like best about your job?” The point is to ask non-threatening questions to get people to talk so that you learn something about the individual. It’s not meant to be an interrogation. After you ask the question, be prepared to listen. You might find that you have something in common with the person. You might discover something unique about the person. You could just discover a kindred spirit.

Employers can also take advantage of this activity.  They can encourage staff to establish these connections by hosting a ‘Friday Tea’ where staff intentionally meet one Friday a month at a specific time to talk with other staff members.  This could help make your workplace feel friendlier for new staff. For employers, this could mean creating a better work environment. Ultimately, it could have the benefit of increased engagement for employees (which helps with retention). Give it a try.

Bonus: Here are a few resources that extol the virtues of drinking tea.

Types of Teas and Their Health Benefits

33 Benefits of Drinking Tea

Top 10 Health Benefits of Drinking Tea

9 Surprising Health Benefits of Drinking Tea

13 Reasons Tea Is Good for You