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Our Blog Posts will help you reach your full potential in becoming a confident conversationalist. New topics each week.

Sports Conversation Starters for Your Workweek

conversation starters Apr 05, 2021

Most of us aren’t looking for additional drama in our lives, but in our conversations… that can be a different story. We don’t mind talking about dramatic stories, finishes, outcomes and people. It makes conversations interesting.

The NCAA Tournament has provided plenty of drama in the last few days. Have you seen the highlights of those finishes? Wow!

They make for great conversation starters this week along with these sports topics.

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Sports Conversation Starters for Your Workweek

conversation starters Mar 28, 2021

A short conversation can still be a productive one.

There’s no “qualifying time” that guarantees a conversation has been a good one.

A quality exchange can be 15 seconds or it could be an hour or anything in between. These sports conversations are perfect for short conversations (15–30 seconds) or for starting longer conversations. You choose and you can make it productive. 

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Effective Communication: Get curious before the conversation starts

As we think about connecting in real life again, resuming networking habits, or maybe refining that podcast you started in the last year. Remember this: Curiosity doesn’t replace preparation.

Curiosity alone doesn’t lead to a great conversation or even a productive one if you didn’t take the time to get curious before the conversation started.

Spend a few minutes to consider things like:

How do you know this person? Are you familiar with them or do you need to do a little research?

What’s happened in the time since last talking to them? Think about what could have happened in their industry, with their job or in the world in general so you can bring empathy, understanding and perspective to the conversation.

What are you hoping to get out of the conversation? Identify the objective before you start talking so you know where the conversation needs to go.

What needs to happen for it to be a successful conversation? Drill down and get a little more specific on...

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Sports Conversation Starters for Your Workweek

conversation starters Mar 22, 2021

Busted bracket? Yeah, me too – along with just about everyone else who assumed the top men’s seeds would advance to the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament.

You know what a busted bracket says? I was wrong. Or, if you have a hard time fully admitting to that statement, it says you didn’t guess right or didn’t make the right choice.

In the context of picking winning basketball teams it matters very little. In a bigger business context there is value in be able to graciously admit when you are wrong.

Use sports conversations to practice the skill you’ll need in much bigger and more important conversations at work. These topics can can get the conversations started.

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Learn from a Leader: Negotiating and Communicating

This is the time of year NFL free-agent deals make headlines. It's easy to look at those dollar amounts and think you'll never been in those kinds of conversations - except negotiating is a skill leaders use every day.

Creating buy-in is a form of persuasion and negotiation. Without it you won't foster the type of teamwork needed to be successful. Being a successful negotiator comes down to a few basic communication skills.

Sports agent Kelli Masters joined Learn from a Leader and shared her overall strategy for negotiating NFL contracts and it isn't about the numbers - it starts with knowing your stuff and being able to see different points of view. 

Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner negotiating his own contract in 2019. Most players prefer to let their agent handle the details and have the tough conversations. Those conversations could include the employer (the team) telling an an employee (the player) he isn't as valuable or important as he thinks he is. Who wants to hear...

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Sports Conversation Starters for Your Workweek

conversation starters Mar 15, 2021

The Big Dance starts this week which means a lot of people will be talking about the NCAA Tournament and their brackets. Even novice and non-fans get caught up in the action and excitement of choosing winners in the NCAA Tournament. If you need a few ideas for how to fill out your bracket, I provided five options in a recent blog post. 

If you'd like additional sports topics to talk about this week, I've got you covered there too. 

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5 Ways to Fill Out Your NCAA Tournament Bracket

“Have you filled out your bracket?”

You’re going to hear this question a lot in the next few days because it’s the start of the NCAA Tournament. Basketball fans love seeing the matchups and filling out a bracket that predicts the winners. It’s not just hoops fans filling out brackets, it seems like everyone does it from the 3-year-old who picks according to color to the novice fan who makes selections based on mascots.

That’s the beauty of filling out a bracket.  It’s not an exact science.  As much as college basketball analysts would like you to believe this is something they have expertise in, the truth is – it’s a crapshoot.  The higher ranked team doesn’t always win.  Every year there are upsets.  And every year it’s the source of a lot of conversations at work, which is exactly why you need to fill out a bracket. 

It’s not an exercise in being perfect.  (In fact, of the...

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Networking in Virtual Breakout Rooms

Parachuting into unfamiliar situations isn’t easy. And regardless as to how familiar you are with virtual meetings, conferences and events, networking in a virtual breakout room isn’t easy.

Even an outgoing person can feel overwhelmed. Not only do I speak from experience, but research has shown Zoom fatigue in extroverts can make conversations less satisfying they can’t rely body language and visual cues that are important to that personality type.

You could hope for the best and cross your fingers that you’re in a room with great conversationalists who can get the conversation going. Or you could spend a few minutes preparing for those interactions, thinking through what you’ll say and strategizing an approach that maximizes your networking opportunities.

As a sports reporter, I often parachute into situations (and locker rooms) where I’m required to have conversations with people I don’t know well, or in some cases, people I don’t...

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Sports Conversation Starters for Your Workweek

After a week spent visiting family in warm, sunny weather I returned to Seattle… and to rain and 40-degree temperatures. It’s like that a lot here. Ask me about the weather and I’ll probably tell you it’s raining. The weather is not a great conversation starter. It rarely goes anywhere interesting it often results in a one- or two-word answer. For people who have spent most of the last year inside the weather sometimes isn’t even relevant.

For small talk that leads to productive conversations and better follow up opportunities try sports and these sports conversation starters.

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Sports Conversation Starters for Your Workweek

Last week as I stood in the Mariners clubhouse introducing myself to new players and asking for interviews, I recognized a familiar trend and pattern. On average it took about five interactions for players to smile, open up in conversations and drop their guard in interviews. Those interactions included just walking past me in the hallway, me saying “Hi” in passing, introducing myself and then asking for the interview.

Throughout my career I’ve noticed the five interactions average in building relationships with athletes and coaches. 

And here’s the thing to keep in mind, the people I work with recognize that talking to the media is part of their job, but ensuring they do that willingly (I can assure you few people are jumping at the chance to talk after a loss) and openly requires effort on my part to build those relationships.

Maybe you’ve never stopped to think about how many interactions it takes to build a relationship, but you can certainly...

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