I had an interesting “ah-ha” moment at work today. While heating up my lunch, the firm’s managing partner, along with one of the other partners, came into the kitchen area. They were deep in conversation, and I was starved, so I didn’t interupt or engage. At some point I did realize that they were not talking about the upcoming program we’re sponsoring, or a client matter. They were deep in conversation about new Dodgers’ pitcher Rod Barajas. While I knew there was a new pitcher with the Blue Crew, I hadn’t read up on him, and didn’t have anything to offer to the conversation, so I went back to my office to eat. And then it hit me: At that moment, I did not speak the language of the water cooler at my firm. At my firm, in addition to our kids, local sports, politics, Mad Men and the gym upstairs are topics of conversation around the water cooler. We’ll add fantasy football to that list very soon. Just as every firm has its own culture, I believe every firm has its own language. By speaking the language of the attorneys (and I’m NOT talking legalease), I have been able to find commonality with the partners. I am able to place myself into a position of being a peer, at least around the water cooler, and not just the marketing director/staff. It did not get past my notice that at the attorney dinner earlier this year — to which I was the only non-attorney invited to attend — I was sat at the managing partner’s table. At the dinner that night, our table talked about sports, politics, rap music, etc. We were laughing, engaged and having a great time. Looking around the room, I couldn’t say the same for all the other tables. The founding partner of our firm stopped by my office today. We noted that it will soon be three years since I joined the firm. I commented on how I’m still having fun. I’m enjoying how marketing and business development are being accepted and adopted into the firm’s culture (slowly). He noted how much more at ease I am in my role. And, then it hit me … In the time that the sports dude and I have been dating, I’ve been exposed to watching, listening, reading, editing, and talking about sports on a daily basis. This has allowed me to become conversent in one of the dominate languages in my firm, which puts me at ease when having to speak to and approach my partners to ask for money, or ask them to do something . Hmmmmmm. Not too bad for heating up a leftover burger and asparagus. Clip art via azcentral.com