I was down home at a family funeral recently. There have been far too many in too short a time. I met a neighbour who I hadn’t seen in maybe 20 years, a woman in her late 60s who always ran a B&B down the road.

As we chatted, she asked what I was doing now, and I began to tell her about my SocialBee venture. Seeing the entrepreneurial spirit in me, sure she was only delighted with me, and asked my how I had come up with the concept, which is arguably the question I’m most commonly asked.

Telling her about my desire to create a quirky way of socialising that didn’t revolve around alcohol or the pub, I became a bit self conscious that that would sound lofty, or worse, pretentious. Nothing worse than an Irish person having notions, or getting above themselves!

But she instantly understood, and commented that wasn’t tea and chat the most natural way to socialise, something, she lamented, that was becoming increasingly scarce in modern communication, driven by technology and devices.

She told me that she had planned to give up the B&B business this year, but that her loyal customers over the years had protested. Moreover, she explained that she realised she was too much of a people person and would miss the social interaction that running her B&B provided. More tea, more chats.

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As I said in a previous post ‘ Human beings are social creatures. We need social interactions with other human beings to be happy and to survive. http://socialbee.ie/happiness-comes-experiences/

One of the first things I realised, when I left Ireland to travel in 2000, was that not every cultures’ socialising habits were firmly grounded in the pub. And today, in 2016, as we becoming ever more multicultural in our workplaces, it is no longer acceptable to assume that all employees will be comfortable with traditional team bonding events that revolve around alcohol and the pub.

As Inc.com found in it’s article 10 Scientifically Proven Ways to Build and Manage Great Teams ‘the “secret” in making team building work is to keep things normal, and to avoid situations that feel invasive, awkward, or forced.’ Whilst having a pint might be a social relaxant for us Irish folks, it might feel forced and uncomfortable to others.

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Having a cup of tea is arguably the great leveller then in terms of a universal social icebreaker. A beverage consumed the world over, in a multitude of ways, customs and flavours, tea, especially served in a dainty china cup, is hardly likely to cause any discomfort. In fact, as any Irish mammy will tell you, tea has magical medicinal properties, and can fix everything from an argument to a headache to a broken heart. So off with you now, for more tea and more chats.