Go have a chat

What is the best communication system in the world? I’m a big believer in heading over to the kettle and starting a conversation.

I usually start my day around 5am with some exercise and then try and do a bit of work before everyone else wakes up. Even while on the Virgin Strive Challenge I still made time to try and keep on top of my emails – they never seem to stop!

But the very best communications still come from human conversations. By standing around and sharing a personal chat with somebody, you can develop a rapport, and lay the groundwork for even more fruitful conversations in future. When you get to know somebody in person, you are far more likely to spark great ideas in each other. Many of the best business ideas I’ve come across have been a result of a quick chat somewhere that has then developed into a working relationship. 

Some of the best conversations I’ve had recently have been while we were hiking or cycling up mountains or sharing ideas over dinner on the Virgin Strive Challenge. People really open up when they have to go through something together, and it was great to support each other and bounce ideas around. Most nights we would have discussions about how we can try and reimagine education through Holly and Sam’s charity Big Change. It got everyone really fired up and inspired to try and do things differently to help children thrive in life, not just survive.

But it doesn’t take climbing a mountain to have a good chat. What’s the best way to get those initial conversations going? Well, a cup of tea takes some beating. 

I think many people worry that they might say the wrong thing or not organise their thoughts properly – and it’s often for this reason that many people use email as their default method of communicating at work. I often get tongue tied but it can make people laugh and relax. If you’re worried about what you might say, try listening instead - you tend to learn a lot more when you listen than when you talk. 

I saw this quote from the writer Earl Wilson, and it makes a lot of sense: "Science never came up with a better office communication system than the coffee break."

Milk, no sugar please. 

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