Drink Tea And Empathy

Empathy, that’s the buzzword in my life these days. Without incriminating myself too much, let me just say that Empathy pays my bills.

Bear with me as I take you through empathy in action in my life. I like my mid-morning tea. Instead of getting off my chair and making it, I get into a consensus-building meeting where opinions fly about the sense of agency and comaraderie that tea-drinking provides. By the time we get into what brand of organic fairtrade local tea must be consumed, half a day is up. So we put those questions in a parking lot and decide to reconvene the meeting a month later because we need to be considerate about everyone’s schedules.

Meanwhile, over this month my productivity at work dips to 10% because

  1. tea fuels my empathy towards organisational goals and
  2. there is excitement in the team about this move to revolutionise tea-making.

Of course, I go home and power work through the evening.

A month later, when we reconvene, the better part of an hour is spent on what the parking lot questions were and if the agenda could be altered to include the burning question–‘Who shall be accountable for tea making and delivery?’. Just when we think Consensus has left the building, in the last fifteen minutes before lunch, the team agrees!

  1. Yes, tea should be made and
  2. Yes, someone should be accountable.

Could we have an action item and a timeline, please?

Someone, mostly the idiot who raised this issue (that would be me) gets ‘volunteered’ to draft a policy on what it looks like to consume tea as a team both empathetically and sustainably while forwarding the vision of our organisation in the spirit of bringing change, keeping in mind our resource constraints.

Two weeks later…

The draft gets circulated on email where everyone responds REPLY ALL of course, saying

  1. Thank you for awesome work!
  2. You are a genius!
  3. This is epic!
  4. Congrats on exceeding expectations!
  5. Success tastes sweet like ginger tea!

without actually having read the policy. This draft (=final) policy gets uploaded to the cloud where only the person who wrote it knows how to find it.

The next day, when mid-morning lethargy catches up with me,

  1. I sulk
  2. Distract the person closest to me
  3. and Facebook,

before a brainwave hits me. OMG, I have an idea!

I am going to boil some water, pour it into a mug with a ginger teabag and add a ton of sugar and milk!

But let me first email the team,

Sub: Empathy in Action Workshop–Revolutionising mid-morning tea making by enabling everyone to make their own tea!

Dear Team

As discussed in the last team meeting, I am passionate about revolutionising the tea-making culture in our office. I would like to thank everyone present for pushing me to think beyond our daily tea-drinking regimes and to consider the power of revolutionising the process sustainably in keeping with the spirit of change our org embodies.

To further our cause, I would like to invite you to a tea-making workshop to be conducted on 1 Apr, 2016. This is of course a full-day event where you will learn the nuances of our tea revolution and the history of colonial oppression through tea cultivation. This workshop will include but will not be limited to giving yourself permission to make your own tea! I request all of you to prioritise this activity and be present.

Within five minutes, a deluge of REPLY ALLs

1. Thank you for awesome work!
2. You are a genius!
3. This is epic!
4. Congrats on exceeding expectations!
5. Success tastes sweet like ginger tea!

And I get all of 2 sign ups for my workshop which gets moved to an improv meeting at the kitchen counter during tea break.

You know what happens next…life and this post!