It’s Really About Making Friends and Influencing People
The ability to carry on an interesting conversation is a vital skill in the workplace. While an exchange is easy when you’re among friends with whom you have a lot in common, that is generally not the case in the workplace.
When trying to establish rapport with someone, you need small talk that is easy, inclusive, and non-offensive. By putting him or her at ease, you can begin to establish a foundation for trust and ultimately move the conversation to the topic you really want to talk about whether it’s a sales pitch to a customer or supervisory chat with a subordinate. While the weather is usually a safe topic, it’s way too obvious.
Water cooler sports talk is a safe topic that can build camaraderie and never crosses the line as “too personal.”
“For women, everything is personal, as when they precede work conversations with compliments on a colleague’s hair or shoes, literally reaching out to have a feel of the fabric of a newly purchased blouse, as if to soften up the colleague for the sticky business conversation ahead. (A male superior could face a corporate rebuke for less) wrote Marie Claire magazine staff writer Meredith Bryan in her Dec. 2008 article entitled “The Pink Ceiling” [whereas] …Men routinely bend boundaries, too, with after-work beers and fantasy football leagues. But sports talk is superficial by design, as fellas tend to live by the Corleone code of conduct: It’s not personal, it’s just business.
The truth is, lots of people like talking about sports, even if you don’t. And, it’s really not about you, is it? Of course it isn’t.
Then again, in the end, it IS all about you because you are effectively building valuable relationships, which is the key to success. Thinking about sports talk this way, as the means to an end rather than the end itself, is often the turning point … the ‘Aha moment’ when sports talk ceases to be something to dread, and becomes a fabulous opportunity.