An NCAA head basketball coach recently commented to me, that players are willing to overlook the faults of a teammate, if they view him as a “good guy.” Players they perceive as knuckleheads, however, don’t get the same benefit of the doubt – even if they are more talented on the court. In this case the players perceive that one person is better for the team, even though reality suggests his skills aren’t up to the same level as the rest of the team.
This example helps drive home the point that it’s important to get along with your co-workers and members of your team at work. One of the easiest ways to develop that rapport is through conversations and positive interactions. In fact, that might be the only way to do it. Remember, you co-workers often don’t know about your life outside of the office. They don’t know if you’re the best parent in the world, the most active volunteer, or devoted spouse. You’re co-workers are basing their judgments about you on what they see at the office. Give them an opportunity to get to know you through conversations. Sports conversations are a great way to break the ice and let them know you have interests outside of work. Mention that you cheer for your alma mater or have loved a particular team since childhood. Ask them for opinions on the local teams.
I default to sports as a conversation topic because I’m a long time sports fan, but also because it builds instant credibility. You could just as easily ask your co-workers about a recent movie, or their opinions on restaurants in town. Anything to spark a conversation and give those around you a chance to see what a great person you are. It makes for much happier teams all the way around.