Communication and the importance of drinking tea

by Kate on September 25, 2012

Drinking tea really helps relationships

Communication seems such a natural thing, yet sometimes we seem unable to get our message across or be understood. To help our communication, perhaps we need to drink more tea (or coffee)?

If you want to live in Baltistan, you must respect our ways…The first time you share tea with a Balti you are a stranger. The second time you take tea, you are an honoured guest. The third time you share a cup of tea, you become family, and for family we are prepared to do anything, even die. ~ Three Cups of Tea, Greg Mortenson

What has this got to do with communication?

Over the years, I’ve attended a lot of courses about communication, heard some fantastic tips from experts and read a lot of books. Given this, it’s easy to make lists of the things we should do to effectively communicate, listen, be heard and deal with difficult conversations.

As with prioritising and setting boundaries, it’s often much easier in theory than in practice.

One of the difficulties is that there’s (almost) always some type of interpretation going on. For example, the leader speaks and immediately the followers interpret based on their own perspective, experience, understanding or whatever. ¬†Depending on the circumstances this may not matter, or it might matter a great deal. If the leader is intending to get the followers ‘on board’ with something, misinterpretation can become a huge roadblock.

There are added complications when it comes to financial matters (or, for example the law, or technology), where there is special language understood by those with a finance background. The ‘outsiders’ very often shut down and can’t hear.

Communication can ¬†also become messy when we are trying to figure things out, grappling with new ideas, or dealing with a sensitive topic. Add tiredness, being hungry and it’s a wonder any communication stays on track! Yet, when it does – when we get through the troubled waters and communication becomes easier – it is a wonderous thing.

Good communication doesn’t occur by coincidence. We must work on it to get better. So the question is ‘how’?

Here are a few ideas.

There are lots of books you can read. Some (old favourites) on my bookshelf are:

  • Crucial Conversations (Patterson, et al)
  • Fierce Conversations (Susan Scott)
  • Getting to Yes (Fischer and Ury)
  • People Skills (Robert Bolton)
Something much simpler, at least in theory, is The Golden Rule (treat others the way you would like to be treated). Though it’s not so easy to apply when we are feeling grumpy or upset.

When communication goes off course, and suddenly someone turns into a monster you feel like you don’t know, this idea can help:

A person isn’t who they are during the last conversation you had with them – they’re who they’ve been throughout your whole relationship.

And in order for that to work, you’ll need a relationship – which means getting to know the person. Really know them (not like some of your 5,000 Facebook friends!), how they ‘tick’, what they care about, who they really are.

Which brings me to the importance of drinking tea, or coffee, and Three Cups of Tea.

That day Haji Ali taught me the most important lesson of my life…(he) taught me to share three cups of tea. To slow down and make building relationships as important as building projects.

Who do you need to have a cup of tea with today?

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kate Groom October 28, 2012 at 7:40 pm

Hi Duncan,

Thanks for popping by.

Sounds like you are going the extra mile to help your clients with their business. I like it! I’m sure a friendly visit from an adviser like you will go a long way to helping clients stress less, and be more effective in their financial practices. I’m all for accounting people getting out of their tax cave!

2 Duncan Smith October 28, 2012 at 7:26 pm


Good Article

I am a business adviser/tax agent with some 30 clients working onsite.

My clients often communicate to me about their dreams (financially and otherwise).

Communication is an essential part of the rapport that I build with my clients.

Cloud accounting will definately make it easier for tax agents to communicate with their clients on a more regular basis, get to know the clients business and offer ongoing business advice.

Maybe tax agents will visit their ckients and have a cup of tea.

Duncan Smith
Neutral Bay Sydney

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: