I was on assignment today doing several interviews for my TV job. Days like this typically mean a lot of down time, and during one of the lulls my co-worker started peppering me with questions.
“What are we doing next week on the shoot?”
“When does the show have to be done?”
“What time is our flight back?”
Then it took a turn, and I clammed up.
“Have you voted yet?”
“Who are you voting for?”
“Do you know about the important measures?”
My co-worker and I have been friends for a handful of years and it’s a known fact he likes to talk politics. But today there was no way I was engaging in the conversation because we were around a large group of people and I just didn’t feel comfortable. He caught on to my silence and wisely changed the subject, choosing to ask me about the Washington State Cougars instead, and how they match up against Arizona State this weekend. At that point, the conversation took off, and we talked easily throughout the remainder of our work day.
Based on this story here are my two pieces of advice: don’t talk politics at work, and if you find yourself in an uncomfortable conversation use sports as a way out of it. Politics, money, religion – those are very taboo subjects especially at the office or around co-workers. You’re much better off, keeping things on a less personal level by talking sports. Conversations about the Giants World Series win or the latest BCS rankings can be emotional without being uncomfortable. You can have the best ideas in the world, but if your co-workers don’t feel comfortable talking to you, chances are those ideas will be overlooked.
Don’t let a taboo make you, your great ideas or hard work become overlooked. Try arming yourself with a few sports tidbits and see how much better the conversations become.