Being able to engage in a sports related conversation opens doors and helps you gain inclusion into conversations. Many people ask me why that’s important or relevant in the world of business. The answer is simple – you want to be there when the conversation turns to business.
If your co-workers are talking about the NFL season before a meeting you know that conversation is only going to last for a short time and eventually it will turn back to the upcoming project, meeting or task at hand. If you are already part of the conversation about the upcoming NFL season, you will be present for the real work talk. Your co-workers will feel more comfortable talking to you about both sports and work, which means that you have a greater chance of being in line for business opportunities when they arise.
This can be a issue for women in a male dominated workplace. At times they feel left out and excluded which goes beyond just having hurt feelings. Being excluded at work can mean a loss of money, opportunities and advancement.
I recently met a woman, Elaine, who shared her story of inclusion through sports conversations. A few years ago, she was working on a project with a couple male co-workers who happened to be NBA fans. Each one of them picked a team he or she thought would win the championship. Elaine had previously worked in Miami so she picked the Miami Heat because of her familiarity with the name of the team. Keep in mind, Elaine didn’t follow basketball or sports in general, but she started to take an interest when she felt like she had a “team” to root for. Elaine and her co-workers placed friend wagers on games and she paid even more attention. It wasn’t long before she was easily making conversation about the Miami Heat and how they were playing. She noticed an immediate change in the way her co-workers treated her. They had always been polite, but now they were friendly and even more inclusive of her during conversations and projects.
Sports conversations helped Elaine improve her workplace environment, gain the trust of her co-workers and lead to even more productivity. They can do the same for you. Check out our weekly conversation starters every Monday and download our 5 Tips for Effective Small Talk to help get the ball rolling.
Jen Mueller, America’s Expert Talker, is the Founder and CEO of Talk Sporty to Me. She’s available to speak for keynotes, presentations and workshops. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. She also developed a line of popular greeting cards as another way to build rapport. They are available on her website http://www.talksportytome.com