“How are we supposed to let our male coworkers know we’re interested in sports, so they can ask us a question?”
This question came from a gal who heard me speak earlier this month. I had just outlined the Talk Sporty plan for communicating and demonstrated how sports topics are a great way to break the ice, build rapport and engage in effective conversations at work.
This participant was on board, but worried the approach worked better for women than men.
“After all, what are they supposed to ask us about?” chimed in another gal in the room.
I was momentarily stunned.
Then I realized, the reaction from the women was a direct result of the assumptions made by their male counterparts on a daily basis. These women were ready to strike up a conversation about the Monday Night Football game. They were up to speed with the baseball pennant race, but the men in their office assumed otherwise.
Here’s my advice to both sides:
- Carry a sports page with you, so that the headlines are clearly visible when you get into an elevator or run into a group of colleagues. That will send the signal that you do follow the sports headlines.
- Don’t be afraid to start the conversation. Glance over the sports page or read a couple headlines from your smart phone and strike up a conversation with your co-workers.
- Realize that more women participate in sports and sports activities than ever before. Don’t assume they aren’t sports savvy
- Treat female sports fans as equals. Talking down to your colleagues, will damage the working relationship and rapport you need in the workplace.
Sports conversations don’t seem like such a big deal on the surface, but it’s part of engaging in a productive conversation and fostering good communication skills in the workplace. If you limit yourself and your small talk topics, you increase the changes of an awkward conversation. And that will ultimately limit your business relationships and transactions.
Don’t make assumptions when it comes to sports, or wine if you’re out in a social setting. Get to know someone, and watch how that leads to increased effectiveness at the office.
Jen Mueller, America’s Expert Talker, is the Founder and CEO of Talk Sporty to Me. Jen is committed to helping you boost your interpersonal skills, engage in more effective communication and reap the rewards of productive conversations. She’s available to speak for keynotes, presentations and workshops. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and read more at http://talksportytome.com