“He drinks a lot of tea!”
I was in Baku to evaluate our project. The question I needed to answer was, is our project partner doing the job he had agreed to do according to our agreement; is he effective in his work?
I asked this question of two types of people.
- Type 1: Ex-pats. Foreigners who had only been in Azerbaijan a short time and didn’t know the culture that well, but who knew our project partner and knew what a Western organization like ours expected.
- Type 2: Locals or foreigners who had lived in the country for a long time and knew the local customs well.
When I asked the type ones the question, they hemmed and hawed a bit then said that they were unsure if he really was doing that good of a job. “He just doesn’t seem to be that effective, he doesn’t really seem to ever get down to business,” they would say. “How so?” I asked. “Well the only thing we ever see him do is meet with people and drink a lot of tea. He doesn’t really do much!”
“OK,” I thought and noted in my notebook, “Not effective, drinks lots of tea.”
Type twos smiled when I asked them the question. “He’s incredible. He does a great job and is very effective!” “Oh,” I said. “How so?” “Well, you see he takes time to meet with people and he drinks a lot of tea with them. He does so much!”
“Ok,” I thought and grinned as I noted in my notebook, “Very effective, drinks lots of tea.”
In my travels around to the, so-called developing world I have learned that it is more effective to drink lots of tea than to get right down to business.
I think that this philosophy also has a lot of merit in the, so-called, developed part of the world. Perhaps we all could benefit from little more tea and a little less “get down to business.” 🙂