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Tea And Empathy

A Wellbeing Ritual For Teams

Feeling overwhelmed and disconnected in today's fast-paced world? You're not alone. Many of us struggle to manage stress, anxiety, and the general feeling of being on edge. This can be especially true at work, where deadlines loom and communication can sometimes feel impersonal.

But what if there was a simple ritual you could do with colleagues to slow down, connect on a deeper level, and boost your overall well-being?

three people with cups of hot drinks
three people with cups of hot drinks

The tea and empathy ritual has two goals: to help you slow down and build empathy for each other. 

Slowing down helps you process your thoughts and gain clarity. It also helps you raise your emotional self-awareness. Talking openly about feelings requires vulnerability, but that vulnerability is the foundation for trust. It helps you see each other as humans and builds empathy. This all contributes to a psychologically safe workplace, which paves the way for healthy, happy, and high-performing teams.

Here's what you'll need:

  • A willing facilitator to guide you through the ritual
  • Each person needs their own coffee / tea / warm drink that requires some manual preparation (like loose leaf tea)
  • 4-15 participants
  • Up to 1 hour

The facilitator will schedule a 1-hour video call. Once everyone's joined, they'll:

  • Welcome everyone
  • Share the instructions for step 1 in the chat window, making sure you read and understand them
  • Let you know how long you should take for step 1 (15 minutes is a good amount of time)
  • Ask you to turn off your cameras and microphones before you begin step 1

Step 1: Tea Making - 15 minutes

The goal of this step is to focus on the experience of making a hot drink.

  • Measure out your tea or coffee and heat up the water.
  • While the water heats up, focus on your body. Notice the different sensations you're experiencing.
  • When the water is ready, pour it over the tea or coffee. Then sit down with your drink, close your eyes, and take a few deep breaths.
  • Once the tea is brewed or the coffee is ready, take a moment to look at it closely and notice everything you can about its appearance.
  • Slowly lift the cup. Feel the warmth, the texture and shape of the cup, and the aroma of the drink.
  • Then take your first sip. Savor the feeling of the warm drink. Really taste it, from the moment it touches your tongue until you swallow it. Take a moment to appreciate it.
  • Bring your hot drink back to your computer and rejoin the video call, turning your microphone and camera back on.

Step 2: Team Video Call with Breakouts - 30 minutes

  • The facilitator will start by welcoming everyone back and asking everyone to hold up their mugs for a group cheers. Then they'll take a screenshot.
  • Next, the facilitator will explain that you'll be talking about your feelings during this step. It's not therapy, and it's not a time to try to work through complicated emotions. It's simply a chance to acknowledge your feelings in a safe space.
  • The facilitator will then organize the group into smaller subgroups of 3-4 people (using breakout rooms in Zoom is a great way to do this).
  • Each subgroup will take turns answering three questions, with each person getting 2 minutes to answer as honestly and thoughtfully as you feel comfortable.
  • The facilitator will share the two questions in the chat and invite the subgroups to begin. (In Zoom, the facilitator can also provide text prompts to let people know when it's time to move to the next question.)
    • Notice and Name: What thoughts and feelings came up for you during the 'tea' ritual?
    • Fresh Perspectives: Can you think of any ways you can slow down and become more aware of your feelings in the future?

Step 3: Conclude - 5 minutes

  • The facilitator will bring everyone back to the main room.
  • Everyone will then be asked to prepare a one-sentence takeaway from the ritual by typing it into the chat but not hitting send.
  • After a minute, everyone will hit send at the same time, creating a "chat waterfall."
  • The facilitator will take a few minutes to walk through everyone's takeaways.
  • The facilitator will thank everyone for participating and then end the call.

If this sounds strange or a little out there, try to set those judgments aside for a moment. The world is changing at an immense pace, and we need to find new ways to slow down. Try this experiment with curiosity, a spirit of exploration, and an open mind!

You might be interested in our Preventing Burnout workshop or you can check out our free burnout guide.