Posted on: March 24th, 2011 by Jen Mueller

“Make your free throws!” I shouted to the TV set last night while watching the end of the Washington State-Northwestern basketball game.   “Fundos guys. C’mon!”

‘Fundos’ is short for fundamentals, and something my high school basketball coach yelled non-stop.   In the case of basketball, fundamental plays involve making free throws, being able to dribble a ball and complete a pass.  Those are the things a player practices from day one.

Less than an hour before this anxious outburst played out in my living room, I was teaching a group of women about a different set of fundamentals needed in the business world.  Talk Sporty to Me partnered with GoGirl Academy to deliver a 3 hour workshop on how to build good communication skills and increase confidence in any situation using sports topics.

On the surface it might sound like a frivolous to learn how to talk about the NCAA tournament with your co-workers.  But learning how to make small talk, and tap into the passion and interests of others is what leads to successful relationships and as a result better business.  You and your co-workers, business associates and supervisors will work better together if you’ve identified common interests outside of work.  It’s how you build rapport, establish trust and gain credibility.

It can be intimidating to try and forge a real relationship with someone, but using a safe subject like a basketball game or a baseball team helps break the ice and get the conversation flowing.   (If you need ideas on what to talk about this week, check out our conversation starters.)

The success stories last night were amazing.  Women who felt like they had nothing to contribute during a sports conversation, left the room empowered with not only sports knowledge but the confidence.   They learned how to plan a conversation from start to finish, how to get out of a sticky situation, how to segue from talking about Donald Trump’s hair in a pace car to topics on their business agenda that day.

Successful results all the way around – including the Cougars who knocked off Northwestern in overtime.

I’m very much looking forward to the Cougs next game and the next opportunity to partner with GoGirl.