I was asked during a workshop last week whether someone should learn about football to join in the conversation among colleagues and at events. Then I saw this article on the BBC website where the Head of the Chartered Management Institute claims that conversations about football exclude people, particularly women, and should be moderated.
My advice in my workshop was that it does no harm to read up on the headlines and have an idea what is going on in the world. I know when Love Island and Strictly Come Dancing are on even if I have no intention of watching them. On no account, however, try to bluff it and be someone you are not. People see through inauthenticity very quickly.
I understand that people can feel isolated if they don’t share a common interest with colleagues but that is no reason to ban (or even ‘moderate’) such talk. We are adults and should both be able to hold intelligent conversations with those around us even when it’s not a core interest of ours, and to be more inclusive when we recognise that someone is not joining in.
Surely it’s better to encourage both of those skills rather than telling people what they can talk about. And, as indicated in the BBC article, there are as many conversations about family that exclude single people as those about football. What do you think?
(By the way, the person who ask the question and who hates football was a man, so perhaps we can drop the gender stereotypes too!)