Now answer honestly. When was the last time you took a coffee break?
If you just burst out laughing, asking “what’s that?”, it’s been too long. And you’re likely looking at coffee breaks all the wrong way. Let me explain: Coffee breaks help foster relationships, and when you have great relationships with colleagues, clients, bosses, and employees, productivity goes up and stress goes down.
When you hear about people taking coffee breaks, do you look down your long nose, silently chastising them for being loafers?
I admit, timidly, that I used to do exactly that. Back in the day (a year ago or so) when we were actually working in office buildings or on-site somewhere, maybe you caught yourself thinking, “Ah gee, look at Joe or Jill, off on coffee break … again”. When I saw that, I smugly felt like I was the better employee, keeping my nose to the grindstone, taking no breaks, and feeling pretty righteous.
I was so wrong! Leaders know the wisdom of coffee breaks.
I used to look at coffee breaks as a waste of time. Now, I look at them as smart business. I’ve come to realize that business-savvy people use coffee breaks strategically because, as I told a colleague years ago, “It’s not about coffee”.
Some time ago, prior to Covid restrictions, I had the delightful pleasure of meeting a colleague for lunch and two others for coffee. It reminded me of how important informal communications are. We felt connected, people first and employees second. I was leading by example, encouraging my employees to use coffee breaks to build relationships and refresh themselves.
POP QUIZ: when was the last time you used your coffee break to build rapport? To connect with someone you’ve been meaning to for ages? Or to simply say “thanks” to a colleague?
If you’re not taking coffee breaks, you’re missing out on opportunities.
Maybe you work in a large organization, and if you do, chances are that you know all about “silos”. These are divisions in your organization that keep to themselves and rarely share information. Add to that the challenges of working from home, and the walls of silors can grow higher and stronger. Silos can also exist between yourself and suppliers, colleagues, and sometimes (heaven forbid), your clients.
Without information being shared and making that human connection, the chance for synergy and innovation is greatly reduced while the chance for recreating the wheel and spinning it around and around without moving forward, is increased.
QUESTION: What could you do to encourage the sharing of ideas and information with people you know?
ANSWER: Go for coffee with them. Even if it’s virtual, it’s still sharing.
Here are some strategic ways to select your coffee partner:
Who needs to know?
Don’t wait for the other person. Define something you know that would be of value to someone else and then tell him or her over a coffee break. That’s how you create synergy and build trust and rapport.
Tap into the circle of influencers.
Informal meetings are a great way to share knowledge and updates, especially information you don’t get through more traditional channels. Build support for your projects through building relationships with the influencers to the decision-makers. Reach out to them, offer information of value to them.
Build sharing and supportive teams.
Next time someone asks you for coffee, remember, it’s not about the coffee (as lovely as the coffee may be, and I’m a big fan). It’s about building relationships and creating an environment where communication readily and organically takes place.
Who do you know who is working really hard? Maybe it’s you. If you find the idea of coffee breaks counter-intuitive to getting things done, just think of it in terms of how it will increase productivity. You come back fresh and more productive. Share that gift with a colleague or someone who needs a break as much as you do.
Positioning yourself as an approachable, proactive and receptive communicator and leader will not only foster internal and external communications, it will nurture innovation, brainstorming, and exchange of ideas. Break those silos, get that communication flowing, and reap the rewards. Besides, doesn’t a coffee break sound great?
Until next time, here’s to …
Better communication, Better business, Better life,
Marion Grobb Finkelstein
Keynote Speaker / Corporate Trainer / Author
Copyright 2012 to 2021, Marion Grobb Finkelstein
Marion Grobb Finkelstein
COMMUNICATION CONSULTANT www.MarionSpeaks.com
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