Posted on: May 14th, 2012 by Jen Mueller

There’s a perception among some highly motivated, ultra successful and overly competitive professionals that small talk is a waste of time and leads to a competitive disadvantage.  The though being that if you let your competition know too much about you, they could take advantage of that.

I can see where some of those professionals are coming from.  It’s a competitive market right now in many career fields.  But I would argue that’s exactly why you can’t afford NOT to chitchat. Everyone, it seems, is being asked to do more with less.  That means you have to make the most of your resources and continue a high level of performance.  The only real way to make that happen is drawing on the talents and skills of the people around you.  And how will you know what those are without having a conversation?

Your entire day doesn’t need to revolve around office chatter in the break room.  If you’re strategic about it and target the people you need to talk to, a 5-minute conversation could lead to more productivity that you could imagine.  Starting that conversation can be tricky if you don’t know what to say.  Try using the following sports topics as conversation starters.

They are just a few of the hot issues sports fans are talking about this week and they can provide valuable insight into your coworkers, in addition to establishing better rapport.


Helping you improve conversation skills NBA – The leagues top scorers will square off in the conference semifinals.  Kobe Bryant and Lakers will face scoring champion Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder.  That’s just one of the juicy storylines.  LA’s Meta World Peace (formerly known as Ron Artest) injured OKC’s James Harden at the end of the regular season with a vicious elbow to the head.

  • Do you think OKC will play with a little extra emotion based on the previous encounters with LA?  The Lakers are also the team that previously knocked them out of the playoffs.
  • Which team’s superstars will play a bigger roll in the series?

NHL – The hockey playoffs have now reached the conference finals.  The winner of the New Jersey Devils and NY Rangers series will play the winner of the Phoenix Coyotes and the LA Kings in the Finals.

  • Which teams are in the best position to advance?

And how about the workout the Staples Center is getting in LA?  Not only are the LA Kings playing there, but the NBA’s Clippers and Lakers are also in the playoffs and using the same facility.

  • Can you image what it’s like to “flip” an arena to the right playing surface and team colors up to 6 times in 4-day period?

MLB – Josh Hamilton of the Texas Rangers made headlines last week when he hit 4 home runs in a single game and finished the week with 9 total home runs.  He’s helping the Rangers separate themselves from the pack.

  • Can anything slow him down? How long can he keep up this pace?
  • Boston’s Josh Beckett missed a start after hurting himself during a round of golf.  The Red Sox starter is expected to pitch Tuesday against Seattle.  What do you make of his comments that he can do what he wants on his off days?

PGA – Matt Kuchar won The Players Championship over the weekend, but he’s not the golfer making the most headlines.  That honor goes to Kevin Na who was on top the leaderboard after 3 rounds.  Na is one of the slowest players on the tour due to the amount of ‘waggling’ he does before each shot.  He says it’s to get mentally prepare for each pressure packed situation, but it made for painful TV and led to plenty of heckling from the fans.

  • Do you it think adds to the pressure by taking such a long time to hit a shot?
  • What would you say to the fans who started taunting him midway through the weekend?


Jen Mueller, America’s Expert Talker, helps business professionals understand the sports conversations that happen every day at work.  She’s also helping them climb the corporate ladder through her program “What Do I Say?” Jen’s practical approach helps professionals join the conversations, sound intelligent, and understand how their communication skills can make ’em or break ’em in business.  Her conversation strategy comes from her 12 years of experience as a sports broadcaster.  Jen is available to speak for keynotes, presentations and workshops.  Contact for more information and read more at