Hello SOTGC Community,
At a recent Women’s Leadership Conference, two of the top speakers stated that sports were key to leveling the playing field at work. To get through your career where networking, meetings and office parties are ever present, it’s important to be well versed in an array of topics. So while you might not be interested whatsoever in sports, it never hurts to have another trick up your sleeve. We’re here to help you feel as confident in talking about sports with your colleagues as you do about your project goals and accomplishments. Here are a few pointers and possible scenarios to be in the know and sound sports savvy.
- Sports are everywhere although you might not notice. Like the yellow car scenario. You may have never noticed all the yellow cars on the road until you bought one. Now it seems they’re everywhere. Once you start paying attention to sports, you’ll see it everywhere. You’ll find sports on the cover of PEOPLE magazine, the nightly news or even at a wine bar (there are quite a few athletes who own wineries).
- Jumping in and talk about sports with colleagues who are discussing the 1962 Super Bowl team is intimidating and even for the biggest sports fan that situation is scary. The trick is to know that there’s always a chance to chime in. Observe and listen. At some point your lead in will be there. Did they mention a team you know about, college football, the president or even the economy? You could mention that there were three former presidents who were college cheerleaders or that Alan Greenspan played in the band.
- Listen, chip in, step back and observe. Once you drop in what you know, similar to above you can remove yourself from the conversation without showing you don’t know everything about sports. Let me tell you a story about a gal we’ll call Samantha. She works in an office surrounded by men who talk more about sports than they actually work. She began reading Last Night’s Game and paying a little attention to sports. One day when the guys were talking sports, she asked them if they watched the blowout game from last night. Their mouths dropped. They were impressed and she shrugged it all off like it was no big deal. No one expects you to drop statistics about passing yards or wins and losses; having a general idea of what’s going on will pay off big time.
- It truly is a team sport. Have you ever been in a crowded bar where everyone is celebrating their team with high fives and cheers? Anyone who will hold up their hand is likely to get a high five. Talking about sports is the same – it’s inclusive. Most people are happy to give you some pointers or answer your question with no judgement. Missed the outcome of the big game the day before? Fess up and ask them to tell you all about it. You’ll earn brownie points for listening.
- Lastly, doing a little research never hurts. Is your boss a Chicago Cubs (baseball) fan? Start following the Cubs on a fun, non-intimidating platform like Instagram so you’ll be in tune if they win (or lose) a big game.
Scenarios where talking about sports will either rally your team or save you from the awkward moments.
- Teamwork discussions – It’s tough to avoid the topic of sports when referencing teamwork. If you’re working on a team building exercise, look into a football FAQ or brush up on some terminology for one specific sport so you can play the expert.
- How was your weekend? This is a great and easy way to start proving your sports savviness. When asked how was your weekend – answer it but then throw in a sport fact you might have seen. It might go something like “and did you see the golfer challenge a heckler to make a putt? Or the football player who was fined for his crazy touchdown dance?”
- Uncomfortable pre-meeting silence. We all know this scenario and it’s awkward with a capital “A.” Similar to the the “How’s your weekend” scenario above, even if the person doesn’t know anything about sports it’s a great lead into conversation that’s more interesting than another conversation about the weather.
To stay up-to-date on the trending topics in sports that will help you in these scenarios, subscribe to our free publication, The Rundown. We’ll share with you what everyone is talking about in three minutes, three times a week. Are you still unsure or have questions? Send us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org. There are no egos here – there’s no such thing as a stupid question. We want you to conquer the world one conversation at a time.