Our Blog Posts will help you reach your full potential in becoming a confident conversationalist. New topics each week.
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...
Which is why I prepare for the 60-second conversations that occur prior to my Spring Training interviews. I’m not just trying to kill time before the camera starts rolling. I’m not filling the silence or just trying to be polite. I have an objective in mind and a question to help guide the conversation.
Intentional preparation makes all the difference between awkward small talk and a productive conversation.
As you think through your conversations this week here are sports topics that could be used to start a conversation.
A former Seahawk reminded me of that in an email yesterday. I had sent him a note congratulating him on a new coaching job and his response included this: “You [were] the only person in media to notice me, but I appreciate it because those small interactions have enormous impact.”
I enjoyed our weekly conversations but didn’t think twice about them or think it was out of the ordinary. What I didn’t realize is how much they meant to him.
There is someone you work with, someone you encounter this week, who will benefit from a small interaction. Take the initiative and engage in the conversation. It makes a difference even if you don’t think twice about it in the moment.
You can use these sports conversation starters to get the ball rolling.
I feel like I’ve said this a lot in the past week, but it’s worth another reminder – the Super Bowl is a great conversation starter, even if you’re not a football fan and even if you didn’t actually watch the game.
Millions of people around the world tuned in to watch Tampa Bay beat Kansas City and they probably made special game day food, have an opinion on the commercials, musical performances and even a thought on what it would be like to travel to Tampa or anywhere else in the world right now.
The football hype will die down this week, but not without giving you a chance to maintain or build business relationships. If the Super Bowl isn’t your favorite topic there are plenty of other topics making sports headlines this week.
By this point you know the drill. Every Monday you can find a list of sports conversation starters right here. These sports conversation starters are more than sports talk. They’re a way to engage in intentional small talk with follow up opportunities that can help you build business relationships.
So let’s get right to it. Here are a list of sports topics making news this week.
As an extrovert and a professional communicator, virtual interactions feel incomplete. I’m not able to read the room or body language the same way and the conversations don’t flow the same way.
That’s not the only thing that’s missing. It’s also the timing, frequency and spontaneity of conversations in general.
When there’s no chance of bumping into your colleague, getting in the elevator with your manager or gauging the mood of your team on a Monday morning you’re left wondering what’s going on. That uncertainty creates anxiety and paranoia when working from home.
Did your manager not respond to an email because she’s been in back-to-back meetings or because she didn’t like your idea? Are your colleagues avoiding you because you’re falling out of favor or...
It's just as important to prepare for the conversations you're not going to have as the ones you plan to have this week.
Maybe you're not going to gossip with a friend, or perhaps you're going to resist the urge to overshare or make assumptions without getting the facts. Maybe you're not going to criticize the way your spouse folds laundry. Whatever conversation you're not having this week, plan for it. Practice what you're going to say instead. Don't leave it to chance that you'll be able to do it on the fly and in the moment.
And if you're looking for something to say, these sports conversation starters should help.
I’ll be honest my Monday is a little less happy following the Seahawks loss Saturday. My schedule changes dramatically this week and so will the interactions I’ve had every morning with the “Swab squad” at the Seahawks facility.
I’ve been part of daily COVID testing for weeks as part of NFL protocols. It takes less than two minutes to get my paperwork, take my temperature and get swabbed every morning and that’s more than enough time to say “Hi,” and build relationships with all the medical professionals in the testing trailer.
Which brings me to this… you have relationships with the people you see on a regular basis, regardless of the amount of time you spend around them. Whether you are intentional about building and cultivating those relationships is up to you.
These sports conversation starters can help you make the most of small talk this week so you can cultivate relationships just a couple minutes at a time.
I don’t know if you need the encouragement yet, but good luck with those resolutions!
And I’d suggest adding one more item to your 2021 goals: Find ways to show up.
“Showing up” looks different these days. You might not be showing up in person. It might happen in an email, newsletter, text, or logging into your virtual meetings 5-10 minutes early to chat with other folks who also logged in early. Whatever option you choose, commit to consistency. Show up so you’re part of the conversation when it happens. Top of mind when an opportunity arises and available for serendipitous interactions.
Part of showing up is having something to say and being able to skillfully engage in small talk. These sports conversation starters can help with that and you can also download the Talk Sporty 2021 Sports Calendar for a look at the sports year in a glance.
Happy holiday week! With any luck you’ll have fewer reasons to log onto virtual meetings this week, but that doesn’t mean your conversations should stop all together. In fact, this is a great week to focus on more personal interactions that are outside the scope of business conversations.
Here are a few options for starting those conversations:
“Good morning! What are you most looking forward to today?”
“Your name came up in a conversation last week and it reminded me to reach out.”
“I’m watching __(insert show here)__ right now and the __ (character)__ reminds me of you.”
Or you can use these sports topics.