I like sports, I do. I like for local teams to do well, and I root for them.
But I no longer watch games or go to games since the promotion to executive and having a kid. There’s always the park to get to, finger painting to do, or that deadline to meet.
One thing I learned a few years ago was to watch ESPN at the hotel whenever I was away on business. (Actually, what I learned was that it really sucked and I hated to be in a meeting of men while they talked about “the game” and I had nothing to contribute because I didn’t watch said game.) It happened 99% of my meetings. I discovered that watching Sports Center that morning gave me all the headlines I needed to be aware of in order to avoid sitting there like a lump with a stupid smile on my face, waiting for the conversation to turn or burn out. Maybe I could follow it, or contribute.
Same with kids. Before I had one, trading stories about their kids was The Great Icebreaker if sports wasn’t the go-to topic.
Them: “Have kids?”
Me: “No, I don’t.”
Them: “Not yet? Planning on them?”
Me: stewing with a clipped smile, considering telling them about my 3 miscarriages to put the Q&A to rest already…
Small talk in business circles can be very awkward. Sports and kids/parenting are considered universal enough to tread upon. But let’s be clear: they’re not actually universal. I’m not suggesting people avoid these topics altogether, but maybe we can talk about other things too, or be sensitive and aware of everyone around the table?