I sat down next to a member of the Seattle Mariners staff yesterday as he was finishing his newspaper. He looked up and said “Looks like Boeing ran into a few problems with their new Dreamliner plane.” He had just finished reading an entire article in Wall Street Journal. I, on the other hand, had only read the headline in the USA Today earlier in the day. So rather than try to fake my way through the conversation, I was honest about it. “You know, I saw that headline but didn’t have time to read the article. So I don’t know any of the details. What happened?”
That conversation plays out several times a day in many different ways. It might sound like this in the office…
“Did you see that memo/email I sent?”
“No, I haven’t been at my desk all morning. But I knew you were going to send something over.”
On a date the conversation might be more along the lines of this…
“Have you seen the Twilight movies?
“No, but I know everyone’s really big on them right now.”
In both of those examples you’re participating and engaging in the conversation, but you’re also setting parameters on how much you know. Doing this helps you avoid some awkward situations and feeling like you need to fake your way through an uncomfortable conversation.
You can do the same thing with a conversation about sports.
“Did you see the Mariners game last night?”
“No, I was out to dinner with my family. What happened?”
“Which team is going to win the Super Bowl this year?”
“You know, I haven’t really followed the NFL for a while. I’m more of a college basketball fan.”
There’s no right or wrong answer to any of the questions. It’s not about how much you know, it’s about promoting a good conversation. So start talking!