Crucial Skills®

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Crucial Conversations for Mastering Dialogue

Crucial Applications: How to Talk Sports and Keep Your Friends

It’s football season! And with football comes fun, food, friends, and sometimes fights—fights over who roots for the best team or players.

Sports fans with Crucial Conversations skills can keep their friendly banter without fighting. Here are some tips for how to talk sports and keep your friends:

  1. Look for areas of agreement. Begin by reinforcing what you have in common—your love of the game. Sports rivalries are usually over team loyalties or favorite players, not the sport itself. Let the other person know you share a common interest, even if your preferred teams and players differ.
  2. Avoid personal attacks. Find ways to remind the other person that you respect him or her. Look at the situation from his or her perspective by asking yourself why a reasonable and rational person would hold that viewpoint. While you don’t have to agree with the view, you can still acknowledge the point is valid rather than “idiotic.”
  3. Focus on the facts. Arguments often become heated when people exaggerate, twist, and spin the facts. Consider the source of your facts and ask the other person to do the same.
  4. Keep it safe by looking for signs of silence or violence. If the other person grows quiet or starts to become defensive, step out of the content of the discussion and reinforce your respect for him or her.
You can learn more insights and skills like this in Crucial Conversations for Mastering Dialogue

2 thoughts on “Crucial Applications: How to Talk Sports and Keep Your Friends”

  1. Laura G.

    I think you missed one more tip that I think is paramount — “Keep it in perspective”! While it’s fun to be passionate about a particular player or team, in the end, it’s only a game for goodness sake, not something of serious importance. Does it really matter who’s right or wrong (or whether there’s even a “right” or a “wrong”)? Are people’s lives (other than, perhaps, the team members’) seriously affected? The same can be said for arguments about people’s favorite television shows or movies (although, I will say, that I’ve never seen folks resort to violence when there was a “fight” about Star Trek vs. Star Wars or Star Trek vs. Babylon 5 at a science fiction convention — but I digress….)

    So, if it seems like the conversation isn’t “fun” anymore, just drop it — you’re not going to change anyone’s mind and, more importantly, it really doesn’t matter enough that you should try to, once the fun is gone. There may be conversations where it’s important to persevere to do your best to persuade someone to consider another viewpoint, but this ain’t one of them!

  2. editor

    Thanks for the reminder, @Laura G.! Remember, it’s just a game!

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