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Talking to People in Person: Start with Hello

I don’t think about myself as working in a male dominated environment. Which sounds odd coming from someone who’s spent 20 years inside sports locker rooms as a sideline reporter and sports broadcaster.

I get lots of questions about what it’s like in a locker room. Here’s what I see: Talented and skilled people who want to excel and succeed at a high level. People who can deliver in pressure situations because of the hours they spend training and preparing.

There are two things you should recognize about what I just described:

  1. I could just as easily have been describing the people you work with. The job descriptions are different but the drive and desire to win can be the same. (Although your office probably smells better and has less laundry on the floor.)
  2. This is not a group of people that has time to waste in their day. Athletes regularly put in 10 to 12-hour days and sit through more meetings than you might realize.

When I take these things into consideration here’s how I approach my job as a reporter in the locker room – I’m going to be the person who makes it easy for you to talk to me.

That means I’m going to find the smallest opportunities to build relationships and establish rapport. That’s why I am intentional about saying “Hello.” In fact, it’s the only thing I might say to a player for several days before actually introducing myself and setting the expectation that we’ll be doing an interview at some point.

Unlike a traditional office or networking setting I don’t get to schedule a 30-minute coffee with an athlete just to get to know each other. I have to find moments within the day to make that happen and that’s why I choose “Hello.” That one word does more than you might think. Here’s what I’ve found to be true:

  1. Hello fits into everyone’s busy schedule.
  2. Anything done consistently can be used to build rapport.
  3. Consistency also shows commitment.

Guys can try to avoid talking to me but I’m not going anywhere. I’m going to keep showing up. I will say hello with a smile on my face. I will make it easy to get a reply. I will grow that short exchange into a longer interaction, a full conversation, post-game interviews and sometimes even friendships. All because I said “Hello.” 

I offered this technique to a woman looking for ways to break into conversations in her male-dominated work environment. It certainly works in those situations, but it also works in any workplace. It’s one of the ways you can be seen at work especially if you’re heading back into an office. Commit to starting with “Hello.”


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