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Drinking tea is a profound ritual that will improve your life

Drinking tea is a profound ritual that will improve your life

The simple act of drinking tea is one many of us take for granted. We do it on the run, sometimes letting it go cold or not even finishing it. We don’t sit down and stop to actually enjoy it. Drinking tea has a long history. It is something people have been doing for centuries all around the world and these days we can harness all that knowledge to make it a ritual that will enhance our lives; forcing us to slow down and embrace the many benefits of tea on a physical, mental and emotional level.

Tea has a long and complex history. It is likely to have originated in Yunnan Province in China as far back as 3 AD. Specifically, the plant itself originated near the lands of northeast India, north Burma, southwest China and Tibet. It was consumed as a medicinal drink, then later for pleasure. The Chinese used it not only as an antidote to poison, but also as a restorative drink. The Chinese introduced tea to the Portuguese during the 16th century and the British began tea production and consumption in India during the 17th century to compete with the Chinese market.

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It isn’t difficult to understand how people then spread this comforting and therapeutic custom across the globe. Drinking tea soon became a tradition for many different cultures and tea is enjoyed in different ways around the world.

The most well known tea ceremony in the world is the Japanese Matcha tea ceremony. The Japanese were introduced to drinking tea by the Chinese in around the 8th century and the green powdered Matcha tea came to Japan in around the 12th century.

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“Preparing tea in this ceremony means pouring all one’s attention into the predefined movements. The whole process is not about drinking tea, but is about aesthetics, preparing a bowl of tea from one’s heart. The host of the ceremony always considers the guests with every movement and gesture.” – The Japanese Tea Ceremony

We can apply the principles of the Japanese Matcha tea ceremony to our own tea drinking rituals to some extent. The first step is to just slow down and make time to enjoy the process of making a cup of tea and drinking it quietly. Acquiring utensils that are delicate and beautiful, meaningful and sentimental can also enhance our experience. Perhaps an ornate tea pot, tea cup and saucer; or a mug with our favorite sporting team or quote on it. Tea drinking souvenirs that we bought on a special holiday or from a place dear to our heart can be used to boost our nostalgia. Drinking tea at home or at work at a certain time of the day, every day can become a daily ritual to center us, make us more mindful and bring us back to the present moment.

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Choosing the tea we drink is important too. Black tea is the most common and accessible of teas and can be consumed in a variety of ways. You can drink it with or without milk and sugar, honey or lemon. These days there are also a variety of green teas, fruit teas and herbal infusions that are available in both loose leaf or packaged in tea bags. We are spoiled for choice and each infusion has its own unique flavour and health properties.

Drinking tea has been scientifically proven to have a number of health benefits due to the antioxidants it contains. It certainly aids hydration and is an excellent replacement for those wanting to cut down on their consumption of coffee and increase their consumption of water. Tea can be consumed as a comforting warm drink or a refreshing chilled beverage. Its versatility and simplicity is underrated.

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Visualize this scenario. You’ve had a long day at work and have a million things running through your mind. You come home and turn off your phone and find a place of solitude and silence. You take your favourite cup and place a tea bag inside; you boil some water. You pour the boiling water in your cup and let the tea bag steep. Imagine how you like to drink your tea. Will you add some honey or milk? Perhaps some lemon? You take your cup to a comfortable place where you will sit and contemplate. You close your eyes and take a deep breath; the aroma of the tea filling your nostrils, the warmth of the cup or mug in your hands fills your body.

You wait. In silence. Just breathing. Until the liquid is cool enough to drink but still very warm and slowly you take a sip. The warmth of the liquid touches your lips and tongue and fills your mouth, gently flowing down your throat and into your stomach. Your whole body becomes warm. You breathe. Close your eyes and just be. Drinking tea. Still and calm. Making time stop. At peace.

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Diane Koopman

Writer, Author, Novelist, Self-Publisher

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Last Updated on April 11, 2019

How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

Possessing strong communication skills will help you in every phase of your life. This is especially true in the workplace.

I have personally worked with several leaders who were masters of communication. A few were wonderful speakers who could tell a great story and get everyone in the room engaged. Those of us in attendance would walk away feeling inspired and eager to help with what came next. Others were very skilled at sharing a clear direction and job expectations.

I knew exactly what was expected of me and how to achieve my goals. This was the foundation of an energized and vibrant role I was in. What I have found is strong communication skills are incredibly helpful and sometimes critical in how well we perform at work.

Here we will take a look at how to improve communication skills for workplace success.

How Communication Skills Help Your Success

Strong communication skills pave the way for success in many ways. Let’s look at a few of the big ones.

Create a Positive Experience

Here are two examples of how well developed communication skills helps create a positive experience:

When I first moved to the city I now live in, I began a job search. Prior to my first live interview, I was told an address to go to. Upon arriving at the address provided, I drove around and around attempting to find the location. After 15 minutes of circling and looking for the address, I finally grabbed a parking spot and set out on foot.

What I discovered was the address was actually down an alley and only had the number over the door. No sign for the actual company. The person that gave me those very unclear directions provided a bad experience for me.

Had they communicated the directions to get there in a clear manner, my experience would have been much better. Instead the entire experience started off poorly and colored the entire meeting.

As a recruiter, I frequently provide potential candidates with information about a job I’m speaking to them about. In order to do this, I also provide a picture of the overall company, the group they might be joining, and how their role fits in and impacts the entire company.

Time and time again I have been told by candidates that I have provided the clearest picture of a company and role they have ever heard. They have a positive experience when I clearly communicate to them. Even when the position does not work out for them, often times they will want to stay in touch with me due to the open communication and beneficial experience they had during the interviewing process.

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Strong communication skills will provide a positive experience in virtually any interaction you have with someone.

Help Leadership Skills

It’s certainly a skill all its own to be able to lead others.

Being a mentor and guiding others towards success is a major hallmark of great leaders. Another characteristic of effective leaders is the ability to communicate clearly.

As I referenced above, having a leader who can plainly articulate the company’s mission and direction goes a really long way towards being the Captain of the boat that others want to follow. It’s like saying “here’s our destination and this is how we are going to get there” in a way that everyone can get on board with.

Another critical component of everyone helping to sail the boat in the right direction is knowing what your portion is all about. How are you helping the boat move towards its destination in the manner than is consistent with the leaders’ vision?

If you have a boss or a manager that can show you what it takes for not only you to be successful, but also how your performance helps the company’s success then you’ve got a winner. A boss with superior communication skills.

Build Better Teams

Most of us work in teams of some sort or another. During the course of my career, I have led teams up to 80 and also been an individual contributor.

In my individual contributor roles, I have been part of a larger team. Even if you are in business for yourself, you have to interact with others in one manner or another.

If you have strong communication skills, it helps to build better teams. This is true whether you are in an IT department with 100 other fellow programmers or if you own your own business and have customers or vendors you communicate with.

When you showcase your robust ability to communicate well with others while interacting with them, you are building a better team.

Now let’s jump in to how to improve communication skills to help you pave the way for your workplace success.

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How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

There are many tips, tricks, and techniques to improve communication skills. I don’t want to overwhelm you with too much information, so let’s focus on the things that will provide the biggest return on your time investment.

Most of these tips will be fairly easy to become aware of but will take time and effort to implement. So let’s go!

1. Listen

Ever heard the saying you have two ears and one mouth for a reason? If you haven’t, then here’s the reason:

Being a good listener is half the equation to being a good communicator.

People who have the ability to really listen to someone can then actually answer questions in a meaningful way. If you don’t make the effort to actively listen, then you are really doing yourself and the other person a disservice in the communication department.

Know that person who is chomping at the bit to open his or her mouth the second you stop talking? Don’t be that person. They haven’t listened to at least 1/2 of what you’ve said. Therefore the words that spill out of their mouth are going to be about 1/2 relevant to what you just said.

Listen to someone completely and be comfortable with short periods of silence. Work on your listening skills first and foremost.

2. Know Your Audience

Knowing your audience is another critical component to having strong communication skills. The way you interact with your manager should be different than how you interact with your kids. This isn’t to say you need to be a different person with everyone you interact with. Far from it.

Here is a good way to think about it:

Imagine using your the same choice of words and body language you use with your spouse while interacting with your boss. That puts things in a graphic light!

You want to ensure you are using the type of communication most relevant to your audience.

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3. Minimize

I have lunch with a business associate about 3 times a year. We’ve been talking for several years now about putting a business deal together.

He is one of those people that simply overwhelms others with a lot of words. Sometimes when I ask him a question, I get buried beneath such an avalanche of words that I’m more confused than when I asked the question. Needless to say this is most likely a large portion of why we never put the deal together.

Don’t be like my lunch business associate. The goal of talking to or communicating with someone is to share actual information. The goal is not to confuse someone, it’s to provide clarity in many cases.

State what needs to be stated as succinctly as possible. That doesn’t mean you can’t have some pleasant conversation about the weather too.

The point is to not create such an onslaught of words and information that the other person walks away more confused than when they started.

4. Over Communicate

So this probably sounds completely counter intuitive to what I just wrote about minimizing your communication. It seems like it might be but it’s not.

What I mean by over communicating is ensuring that the other person understands the important parts of what you are sharing with them. This can be done simply yet effectively. Here’s a good example:

Most companies have open enrollment for benefits for the employees in the fall. The company I work for has open enrollment from November 1 to 15. The benefits department will send out a communication to all employees around October 1st, letting them know open enrollment is right around the corner and any major changes that year. There’s also a phone number and email for people to contact them with any questions.

Two weeks later, we all get a follow up email with basically the same information. We get a 3rd communication the week before open enrollment and another one 1 day before it starts.

Finally we get 2 emails during enrollment reminding us when open enrollment ends.

There’s minimal information, it’s more of a reminder. This is effective over communication.

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5. Body Language

The final critical component to how to improve communication skills for workplace success is body language. This is something most of us have heard about before but, a reminder is probably a good idea.

When I am in a meeting with someone I am comfortable with, I tend to kind of slouch down in my chair and cross my arms. When I catch myself doing this, I sit up straight and uncross my arms. I remember that crossing arms can many times be interpreted as a sign of disagreement or conflict.

In general, the best rule of thumb is to work towards having open body language whenever possible at work. This means relaxing your posture, not crossing your arms, and looking people in the eye when speaking with them.

When you are speaking in front of others, stand up straight and speak in a clear voice. This will convey confidence in your words.

Conclusion

Possessing strong communication skills will help you in many facets of your life and most certainly in the workplace.

Good communication helps create better teams, positive experiences with those we interact with, and are critical for leadership.

There are numerous tactics and techniques to be used to improve communication skills. Here we’ve reviewed how to improve communication skills for workplace success.

Now go communicate your way to success.

More Resources About Effective Communication

Featured photo credit: HIVAN ARVIZU via unsplash.com

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