Had another three-cups-of-tea moment with a friend of mine tonight. I've done this before, so I hope I'm not boring you, but while we drink the first cup we're strangers. During the second cup we're friends, and by the end of the third cup we're family.
In Greg Mortenson's book, it's used as a peace making method. Over three cups of tea, we can start to see things as two from the same family. Rather than members of opposing tribes.
But does it work with someone you're already friends with? Why not.
My buddy Wolfgang was worked up about something, but couldn't quite get out what it was. I tried to get him to drink some Oolong with me, but he was worried about the caffeine. I had some Rooibus with little orange pieces which I served him, and It smelled so good I thought the whole experience would be better if we drank the same thing.
The first cup was just him calming down. It was really soothing. For both of us. He drained that first cup, and it was the first time I saw him smile. A big, sweet smile. He took a deep breath in, and started to tell me his story as I poured the second cup. It was quite a story.
I won't go into it (he'd never forgive me for spilling his private life here), but needless to say...there was a woman involved. While we slowly sipped at the second cup, he started filling me in on more details. The reasons why this was bothering him so much and why this situation was going to destroy the small semblance of sanity he'd created at home. I wouldn't be exaggerating if I said there was a bit of gnashing of teeth. The deeper we delved into his problem, the more emotional it got. Were there actual tears, I wouldn't mention it. He's Bavarian. It's better to be angry than to be sad. From me you'll hear no talk of crying.
He paused as the third cup was poured. A deep, long breath. I asked him if he wanted to know what I thought. He was so spent from all of the energy he'd burned while telling me his story. He begrudgingly agreed to hear my opinion. We slurped and pondered a few more moments before I finally spoke.
'What day is it?'
'What day is it?'
'Of what month?'
'What d'you mean "What month"? It's June. You know that.'
'Ok...30th of June. What was your biggest problem on May 30th?'
He thought a minute. Wondered what on earth had been his biggest concern back then. Couldn't remember. For the life of him, the man had no idea what had been bothering him a mere four weeks ago.
I knew. I knew exactly what'd been bothering him on the 30th of May. The point of all of this is to see that the things we're so worked up about are only an issue because we're so close to them...and that problems are fleeting. If we look at things objectively, we can normally see that the solution is easier than our hot-headed self could ever imagine.
Simple solutions. While we finished that third cup, he looked across at me and laughed. His problem wasn't so massive anymore because he wasn't nearly as important as he'd been. Rather than the star of the show, he was just another bit player. He'd been playing with all the gusto of a prima donna, but had no lines to speak of. He finally laughed at his earlier pompousness.
From nervously smiling, to yelling (and maybe even crying), and then laughing in the time it took to drink three simple cups of tea. So far, in my experience, it's always worked.