Episode 236: February 3, 2013
by Richie Frieman
As I write this, my AFC Champion Baltimore Ravens are gearing up for the biggest game of their lives – The Super Bowl. And even though I will not be at the big game, I will be watching with friends and family on TV, cheering on the home team. (See my recent episode about Super Bowl Party Hosting Etiquette.) And come Monday morning, there will be people in the office who can’t wait to bring the victory parade down the hall – for whichever team takes home the Lombardi trophy.
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Whether you’re a big-time trash talker or a kinder, gentler winner, there is nothing wrong with showing your love and affection for your team’s win. However, if you’re in the office, etiquette rules apply. You have to walk that fine line between properly celebrating and obnoxiously gloating over your team’s victory.
So with that, check out my top 3 Quick and Dirty Tips for proper office sports celebrations:
Tip #1: Don’t Be a Maniac
When you think of a typical “sports fan,” a number of bizarre images pop into your mind. There’s the face-painted wild men, the loud screamers, the rowdy groups shouting expletives, and the list goes on. Sadly, you will never think of the average sports fan as someone who sits quietly, like at a tennis match or golf tournament. I admit, too, that I have gotten a bit overzealous when it comes to sports. I’ve screamed, in anger and in joy, until my lungs were empty and my voice was hoarse! What can I say, the team needs me! And in reality, the fans do help their home team win. But, let’s face it, in the office, you don’t have to bring that same intensity to the table.
Obviously the office is a place of business, but it can be a social gathering, too. When you come in on Mondays, you naturally gather with coworkers to discuss your weekend, which can also include a major sports victory. This conversation might even include some gentle joshing with your coworkers, where noise volumes are at a reasonable level and no one curses or rants. This is, of course, proper and encouraged.
However, if you come to work still in your war paint from the weekend, dressed like the team mascot trying to get the office to follow your lead in a team chant, that’s going a little overboard. Yes, you’re excited, if not elated, but the workplace is not the place rub salt on your coworker’s wounds.
Tip #2: Proper Trash Talk
This past baseball season, my friend had a coworker who thought he was part of the World Series winning team. He had the shirts, the posters hung up in his cubicle, the screensaver, etc. Even though he got an A+ for team spirit, he got an F when it came to how he showcased his team pride in the office.
You see, he was one of the only fans of this particular team at his job. So he felt it was his duty to let the world know that the other teams stunk and his was the clear winner. He’d trash-talk to people at the fridge, while they were putting their lunches away, or in line for coffee. He even trash-talked the boss! He’d apparently laugh and smile as he let loose, thinking that would make it Okay, but it wasn’t. Everyone felt awkward around him and his reputation quickly dropped as a result.
Let me say this one thing about trash-talking – it’s an art. Yes, my friends, trash-talking is only good when it rolls off the tongue, not when it’s thrown out there like someone randomly tossed darts. You don’t want to just go up to someone and say, “Your team sucks! Screw you!” That’s tacky, low class, and not creative at all.
If you’re going to trash-talk, you need to be clever and witty. Don’t try to make the person uncomfortable or sad. Your goal should be to make him laugh at your comments and even come to respect your team. It’s supposed to be fun and lighthearted and, in the office, trash-talking is on the low end of what is proper. In my example, my friend’s coworker would shout his taunts at unexpecting colleagues. Not everyone was on board and not everyone enjoyed his “spirit.” If you are going to trash-talk in the office, don’t do it to those who won’t welcome it and, most importantly, keep it friendly folks.
Tip #3: Throw a Party…For Everyone
As I said in Tip #1, bringing the a full band with you to the office to march down the hallway and sing the team’s fight song is highly improper. However, this does not mean you can’t talk about the team’s victory, high five your friends, and even throw a party.
“Wait a second, Modern Manners Guy, you just said that you can’t walk around bragging but now you say to throw a party?”
Yup, you got it right, my friends. Here’s how. Unlike in Tip #1 where the party was rudely forced upon you with no notice, you can have an office party for your team. Just make sure everyone is invited and knows about it. There is nothing wrong with having a team party to celebrate. But it’s about the celebration of the victory or effort, not the humiliation of those in the office who did not share your team spirit.
If there’s one thing I just can’t stand, it’s obnoxious sports fans! So when you want to celebrate in the office, designate a time and place for the event and invite both sides of the battle. Open it to all, make it a potluck, decorate the room, just don’t alienate anyone because he or she doesn’t share your views. After all, it’s just a game and has nothing to do with your business. It should be treated as an outside activity, not the basis for coming into work every day.
Do you have a great story about improper office team spirit? Do you have any offenders in your office? Post all the details in the comment section or on the Modern Manners Guy Facebook page.
As always, if you have another manners question, I look forward to hearing from you at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow me on Twitter @MannersQDT, and of course, check back next week for new Modern Manners Guy tips for a more polite life.