Thursday, May 10, 2007

On Tea and Books

I keep reading about tea. In A Country Year by Sue Hubbell, she serves tea when a friend visits her farm in the Missouri Ozarks; she probably uses some of her own honey to sweeten it. Greg Mortensen, author of Three Cups of Tea, drinks tea with practically every person he meets in Pakistan; it is a common courtesy. I am now reading The Good Husband of Zebra Drive by Alexander McCall Smith; whenever a client comes to the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, Mma Ramotswe serves tea.

I was visited by a salesman yesterday. I chose a table in the public area for us to sit, as I do not have a private office and the board room was in use. He needed a surface for laying out his documents and nothing was confidential, so it did not seem a bad place to meet. Halfway through the conversation, I suddenly thought that if we were in Pakistan or Botswana, we would be drinking tea. I felt ungracious as we sat there in stiff chairs.

I resolve to change the way I meet with my appointments.

  • I will offer tea, coffee, or cocoa. We have a machine that makes beverages in an instant.
  • I will chat before getting down to business.
  • I will select a less public spot for meeting if possible. I will clear off my desk in the workroom if necessary.
  • I will try to meet international standards of courtesy.

As several of the authors in The Book That Changed My Life say, every book changes me. I am sometimes slow to comprehend.


Nonanon said...

Isn't it weird how when you read about something that sticks in your brain, you start seeing it everywhere? The week when David Halberstam died I started seeing his name EVERYWHERE--and not just in obits in news mentions, I mean in other unrelated books like Calvin Trillin's "About Alice." Books are wild and wonderful, as you well know.

I think your new plans for meetings might be nice to enact. It also might put salespeople on their notice, as the "having a beverage, do a little personal chatting" is an oft-cited method for salespeople to get you to lower your guard and open your wallet! :) I've got to get that book "Three Cups of Tea" back--I had it home and didn't get it read, but it sounds like you really liked it.

Shannon said...

I have one that brings me coffee cake and we've also gone to lunch. It's nice to build relationships and know the people that you buy from.

We usually go to the back and catch up for a few minutes and have a nibble before getting down to business. Makes the business fun!

By the same token, I don't deal with another company because the rep was extremely discourteous. I can buy anything from his company I need online so I'd rather avoid the personal interaction as much as possible.......just keeps my zen space happier. Shannon