Posted on: December 9th, 2010 by Jen Mueller

If you’re headed to a holiday party in the next few weeks, you’re almost guaranteed to hear these questions.

“What are you doing for Christmas?”

“Can you believe what the weather has been like?”

“Have you done your Christmas shopping?”

All of them are legitimate, but how much do you really care?  It seems a little harsh to consider it that way, but here’s why I’m asking.  If you don’t have a vested interest in the people involved in the conversation, all of those questions will lead to dead end conversations.  Ultimately you really don’t care if your co-worker’s Aunt Mildred is planning to travel Christmas Day forcing someone to get up early and go to the airport.  And conversations about the weather don’t leave much room for follow-up.  Those conversations end quickly leaving you with potentially awkward silence.

It should come as no surprise that my suggestion for a conversation starter is a sports topic.  Remember sports is that easy opening.  It’s non-threatening, it’s something many people enjoy talking about and there are many avenues for follow-up.

Try this line of questioning with a football fan:

“Are you planning to watch any Bowl Games this year?”

“Will the rest of your family watch games with you?”

“What do you think of the matchups?”

“Who are you rooting for?”

“How did your team do this season?”

I can see the doubt creeping in for sports novices and here’s where I would challenge you to think outside the box.  Just because the conversation starts with a sports subject like a bowl game doesn’t mean you can’t open up the line of questioning.  For example, the BCS Title Game (National Championship) will be played January 10 in Phoenix, AZ.  Try focusing on the venue not the game. Like this:

“I saw the title game will be in Phoenix.  I love Arizona, have you ever been?”

“When did you go?”

“Do you have any trips coming up?”

“I wish I could travel more, but work has been so busy.  How’s work going for you?”

The conversation started by mentioning the BCS title game and then hit 3 different topics that offer even more opportunities for follow-up.

All of these examples are listed to help you engage in smooth conversations that lead to better relationships and ultimately more opportunities.  Some of those opportunities will be work related, some might be in the form of better friendships.  Either way try talking sporty at your holiday parties this year.

And you’re looking for a hostest gift or last minute gift.  Take a look at the new line of Talk Sporty to Me greeting cards.  They’re a great way to open the lines of communication all year long.

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