We’ve written blogs on small talk and conversational skills before, but with two weeks of non-stop Olympic coverage on virtually every cable station and NBC, the time seemed ripe to revisit the old water cooler! You may not personally be as addicted to this sports extravaganza as we are, but you can bet that much of the conversation at work is going to center on the action in the pool, on the polo grounds, at the track and field center, Centre Court in Wimbledon, or any of the other venues in and around London.
So, what can you do if you don’t know the difference between a javelin and an arrow, or a pommel horse and a thoroughbred? Take a nice deep breath and ask lots of questions.
- Have you been watching the games?
- What is your favorite event?
- What was the biggest upset in yesterday’s events?
- What sports did you play as a kid?
- Did you ever dream of becoming an Olympic athlete?
If you show some genuine interest, a passionate sports nut is going to "talk your ear off" until your cold water is lukewarm!
If you are still at a loss for words, you can talk about London itself, or some of the behind the scenes/background drama like the Phelps-Lochte rivalry, the hometown Olympic hero, the comeback kid, etc.
You can always watch a few quick video clips on YouTube to get up to speed enough to ask a few on target questions.
Remember, water cooler talk is NOT a waste of time. It is a chance to bond with your colleagues, establish and maintain healthy working relationships, "blow off some steam," and even enjoy some of your time at the office.
Check out this article from an online posting from Arizona State University’s W.P. Carey School of Business (by Newton). You will understand why socializing around the water cooler is a part of who we are as a civilization. http://knowledge.wpcarey.asu.edu/pdf.cfm?aid=404
In summary, the article states:
- People are social human beings and want to feel a sense of belonging with other people. The feelings about their organization or management is dependent on how they feel about their team of immediate co-workers or "tribe."
- Lower-level managers can help connect the "tribes" to the larger organization.
- Teams function better when there is rapport amongst the employees.
- Social networking technologies that encourage personal connections can actually help connect employees to their coworkers.
- The accomplishment of an organization's goals and initiatives is related to how the "tribe" or team interprets and acts on them.
If you need help fine tuning your water cooler presence, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.