There is a famous book titled “Three Cups of Tea” and it tells the story of an American man and his many journeys to Pakistan to build schools for children. The tea reference is to the custom of having tea while communicating with others. This occurred during lively discussions, friendly and informal talks, and during negotiations for him through the book.
The book specifically refers to the American coming to the realization that in order for an important collaboration to be negotiated and finalized as well as for friendships to be developed, three cups of tea had to be consumed because this is how relationships and rapport are developed.
My short reflections of the Glasgow trip (why Glasgow? read more here) reminds me of the above story however the variations include instead of a single American traveling, it is a small group from New York, Barcelona and Glasgow getting together in Glasgow over a multiple days. Instead of three cups of tea (or coffee), there were many, many cups of tea.
Drinking, while engaging others in communication, is a form of nonverbal communication and falls with the "E" for environment of my METTA acronym [more here].
It was in these numerous opportunities of consuming tea with Glaswegians that I was able to have deep yet informal conversations learning about how people here, from all religions, religious groups, law enforcement, and governmental agencies are working in various collaborations towards building a Glasgow and Scotland that is based on the words of Wisdoms, Justice, Integrity and Compassion.
People shared with me how these words manifest daily not only just during their work but their lives. Tea (again, also coffee), is a wonderful nonverbal communication element that reduces the invisible barriers that exist such as cultural differences, languages and accents, clothing and adornments, and personal beliefs.
These words of Wisdom, Justice, Integrity, and Compassion, which are inscribed on the ceremonial mace in the Parliamentary chamber in Edinburgh (read here), do not “live” in written text. Rather, I was able to see it come alive while engaging all many different people in these informal conversations over a cup of tea.