Our Blog Posts will help you reach your full potential in becoming a confident conversationalist. New topics each week.
Sports small talk can make it easier to have conversations about accountability with your team at work.
How? I'm glad you asked and I hope you're ready to think outside the box scores.
Conversations about accountability happen all the time on game days. They're called post-game interviews and listening with a close ear can help you take the stress out of initiating tough conversations at work.
Athletes and coaches talk about how they talk about they exceeded expectations or failed to live up to their expectations and standards. The final score helps set the tone for those conversations, but they are a number of stats that support their assessments. With that in mind there are two things you need to do:
1. Know the numbers that measure success. Be specific. It's not pass/fail. If you want to move the needle and have impactful conversations about accountability know your numbers and why they're tied to success.
2. Use a local or regional team as an...
You don't have to stick to sports. You can use sports small talk as a jumping off point for other conversations.
Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll did that with his team last week when showing World Cup highlights during a team meeting. Pete used soccer to spark conversations about competition, geography (actually showing them a map of where is county is located) and world events.
He used something familiar - like competition and sports - to spark conversations that went beyond the pitch and the field.
You don’t have to stick to sports when using any of this week’s conversation starters. See where this list of topics takes you in small talk.
Timeouts, huddles, conversations in the dugout and suggestions from a caddy are all forms of feedback that happen during sporting events.
It's not just a break in the action, those conversations are critical for making adjustments, staying on track and being successful. When you think about it that way, it's easier to think out side the box scores and borrow a few conversation tactics from sports.
As the video points out, it's absurd to think that a coach will withhold critical feedback until the end of the season or even the midway point of the season. So why would you do that with your team at work?
Instead of dragging out the process or delaying conversations about feedback until it's time for mid-year reviews or yearly performance reviews, let's use sports to help accelerate the feedback process. When you see a time out called, a team huddle or a coach yell, you're watching feedback in action and this is what you're seeing:
For as much as sports brings people together, sports fans don’t always agree. There’s a lot of fun, light-hearted, healthy debates around sports that don’t mean all that much in the end (because at the end of the day does it really matter who gets ranked in the Top 4 in college football?)
You don’t always have to agree. In fact, disagreeing and practicing a healthy back-and-forth is a good conversation skill to develop.
These sports conversation starters can help you with that this week.
Think about it this in terms of your performance review or year-end reviews. The ultimate measure of success is meeting or exceeding a goal, but that's not the only way to measure growth, lessons learned and skills you obtained or strengthened.
There is value in measuring forward progress. You see it every week during football games. This is one of the ways to think outside the box scores and find parallels between sports and business.
If it feels like you move one step forward and then two steps back, only count the step forward. It's called forward progress.
Every week I'm posting a new video on You Tube to encourage Thinking Outside the Box Scores. You can find those videos here and subscribe to be among the first to see them.
Talking sports is my job. I love looking at the matchups, stats and storylines. I also love how often sports intersects and corresponds to business situations and conversations.
Sports always goes beyond sports if you’re Thinking Outside the Box Scores, which also happens to be the title of my new video series on YouTube. Every week I’ll post a short video that draws a correlation between sports and business.
For example, that project debrief you’re tempted to skip… that’s like a team not going back and looking at film of their game. You can see that video here and while you’re there go ahead and subscribe to my channel (there’s some fun stuff coming up!) And of course make sure you’re using topics like these to spark small talk this week.
If the last thing you want to do after finishing a project is a debrief, I get it.
I’m not particularly fond of re-watching past TV shows/segments I’ve produced. When I’m done, I’m done and I’m ready to move on. Except that’s not a game plan for success. Sports gives us a great example and reminder of that.
As the sideline reporter for the Seattle Seahawks I can tell you that every Monday is “Tell the Truth Monday” at the Seahawks facility. Everyone reviews film, (Yes, I know it’s not actual film, but they still call it film study.) They highlight the successes, study the failed plays and have honest conversations about what went right and what went wrong because the film, as they say, doesn’t lie. I’ve covered more than 250 games for the Seahawks, including outcomes you don’t want to talk about much less re-live on Monday, but they do it anyway because it’s one of the ways you get better.
I often mention that more than half of all Americans identify as sports fans. The World Cup helps highlight the magnitude of sports on a global scale because more than 5 billion people are expected to watch the tournament. That means more than half of the global population will be watching. (Insert mind blown emoji here.) Here's a great summary of the talking points around the World Cup.
If we’re being honest, I probably won’t be one of the billions of fans watching World Cup games, but I will follow headlines and highlights so I can talk with people who did. It’s part of using sports to connect with others. Even a passing interest can spark interesting conversations. So can these sports conversation starters.
There is a difference between saying "I was wrong" and "I'm sorry." Both are important, but you don't necessarily need to apologize if you guessed wrong or your educated guess didn't pan out.
I was completely wrong about how the Seahawks game in Germany would play out. It gave me the perfect opportunity to practice useful communication skill in business.
As I mentioned in the video there are times an apology is necessary, but I've seen far too many people (especially women I've worked with) default to "I'm sorry." Here's what happens when you do that: you take on unnecessary blame and criticism, add pressure on yourself and send a message that you're responsible for any and all failures. That's just not true and it doesn't position you well for future opportunities.
Here's where sports can help us differentiate between "I was wrong" and "I'm sorry." It starts with the question "Who do you think will win the game?" The answer is a best guess and fans get it wrong...
Travel. See the world. Use sports to connect.
Okay, I’ll admit I’m a little biased and still riding the high of being in Germany with the Seahawks. I have missed overseas travel immensely the last couple years. During the few days I spent in Germany I did my best to soak up the culture before working a football game Sunday.
Sports was the connection point. Every Uber driver knew there was a big game in town. Every server knew there were football fans around. The buzz sports created gave me a chance to connect. I learned about national sports from four different countries and answered questions about American football. It was amazing to find similarities with people in another part of the world.
It was also a reminder that we are all connected. Through sports. Through life. Through struggles. When I connect with people I see life in different ways. I see similarities instead of differences and I see a clearer path for better communication and stronger...