I've been fairly athletic my whole life, and watching sports is a natural extension of that passion for me. I've continued to remain pretty current with sports news (especially my fav football and baseball teams), which often comes in handy when I want to quickly bond with new clients outside of my city (or country).
This occasionally means consoling clients on a devastating Sunday Night Football loss during a Monday morning consultation.
Turns out, my effort to establish commonality with a new client by kick-starting a meeting with chit chat about sports (or the weather), does not make me anymore affable. My small talk is expected, because I'm a woman.
Mmmm hmmm... you read that right.
However, when men engage in the same behaviour, they are perceived more favorably. They're seen as making an effort to build a bond.
Harvard researchers examined this phenomenon and it's impact on negotiations. Small talk from men resulted in better outcomes, while small talk from women was basically irrelevant.
Here's a snippet:
"...because we tend to expect women to behave communally, we may not punish them for the minor violation of a gender stereotype—electing not to shoot the breeze before negotiating—the authors hypothesize. Women may need to find “other ways than small talk to cultivate a positive regard in their counterparts,” says study author Shaughnessy."
Alright, then. Guess women are allowed to get down to brass tacks much sooner. Same outcome, less time. Perfect.