Beverly Flaxington is a practice management consultant. She answers questions from advisors facing human resource issues. To submit yours, email us here.

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Dear Bev,

Is there a way to politely ask the male advisors I work with not to make everything a sports metaphor?

I could care less about sports of any kind. But every single meeting we have, whether internally or with clients, the three advisors I support find ways to turn their analogies into sports examples. It irritates me to no end and it sometimes irritates clients too. Why aren’t those guys more self-reflective and consider stories that are more well-rounded and gender-neutral?

Can I point it out to them? I try and avoid anything that highlights the fact that I’m the only woman in the firm. I don’t want to make trouble if I can avoid it. But I might just lash out if they keep it up!


Dear S.O.,

Do you think the advisors are aware this approach is bothersome to you? Have you ever brought it up, even subtly, so they realize it doesn’t land well with you? I ask because my guess is that the advisors are unaware they are doing something you consider to be offensive.

There are many situations where sports analogies make sense – when talking about teamwork and collaboration, overcoming obstacles for success, working toward a common goal and so on. I was once involved in a training that referenced the role of a quarterback, and several people pushed back saying they did not appreciate a football analogy. So we spent hours researching other potential options to make the same point and we came up empty. I’m sure readers have one or two we might have missed, but it reminded me and others on my team that sometimes a sports story helps to highlight the point you are trying to make. It’s also easy. If your advisors often use them, they are readily available and can be brought up without a lot of forethought.