Our Blog Posts will help you reach your full potential in becoming a confident conversationalist. New topics each week.
This is the time of year for goal setting and predictions. Most people are either making New Year’s resolutions or predicting what will happen in the coming year. For example: Tom Brady will retire in 2022. I’m not saying I agree with that one, but it’s possible….
Here’s what I’m going to throw out there – resolve to get better at small talk and I can correctly predict you’ll become a better communicator. Small talk, as unimportant as it seems, gives you a chance to practice thinking on your feet, talking to people you don’t know well and navigating uncharted territory in conversation. Being comfortable with being uncomfortable is a great skill to have as a leader and a communicator. Use these sports conversation starters to practice this week.
I’m a firm believer in preparing for little conversations like small talk because a.) I want my interactions to be productive b.) I don’t want them to be awkward, especially if I’m trying to build a relationship.
Preparation can range from doing a little research on people I’ll encounter, identifying success statements I can use in response to “How are you?” and having a few general questions in my back pocket to start a sports conversation. Here are some examples:
They’re canned questions that can get a timely response. I think of these as really generic questions and while I typically advocate for asking specific questions that get you closer to your conversation goal, these questions work just fine at starting a conversation.
BUT… your goal probably isn’t just to...
The two most obvious stories grabbing headlines this week are Christmas and COVID. Now seems to be a good time to offer a gentle reminder to make good choices with your conversation starters this week, especially if you’re around family. Just because something is making news doesn’t mean it makes for great conversation at the dinner table.
Even sports headlines are challenging these days, because of the prevalence of COVID. I won’t be the one to tell you not to talk sports, I will be the one who says try to stick to sports, or a safe “sports adjacent” topic to keep the Christmas spirit and family conversations on track.
Here are a few headlines you can use for sports small talk if you choose to go that route.
I feel fortunate when my work travel schedule takes me back home and gives me a chance to see family. That’s what happened during the weekend when I was in Houston. Each family member I talked to – including my 4-year-old nephew – talked sports to me, regardless of their true interest in Seattle sports. I work in sports. I was in town for a game. It makes sense they would use sports as a conversation starter.
It also makes sense that people would start sports conversations with you when they know you’re a sports fan. Use can use these sports conversation starters to indicate you’re a sports fan. You don’t have to engage in long conversations, just mention them in small talk. Even if there are no follow up questions, debates or interactions you’re setting the stage for future interactions.
Don’t be shy, these topics are making news around the sports world this week.
I’ve taken a fair amount of grief from my family in the last week over my Christmas list. According to them, it’s too short. The way I see it, having fewer options makes it easier. Limiting options narrows the focus and takes the guesswork out of next steps, which in this case is what to buy for Christmas.
The same thing is true when it comes to sports headlines. There are hundreds of sports headlines you could choose to talk about. That’s the great thing about sports but it can also be overwhelming. It’s why narrowing your focus to just a few topics makes the next steps – using them in conversation – easier. Here are a handful of sports conversation starters that take the guesswork out of sports small talk this week.
You could spend this week asking everyone what they did for the Thanksgiving holiday, what they purchased on Black Friday and if their Christmas decorations are up.
But if you get tired of that conversation track try sports small talk and these conversation starters.
Happy Thanksgiving week! There is a good chance you’ll be expected to make casual conversation this week with friends or family. There’s an equally good chance you’ll be trying to navigate potential conversation minefields. Sports can help you reign in some of the conversations and keep it light.
It’s okay to think outside the box scores and talk about “sports adjacent” topics related to a game. Think about things like location, favorite game-day food or ritual, maybe you’ve seen a concert at the same venue that’s hosting a sporting event, which can help you transition to music and other fun things you have on the calendar - all of those topics can start with sports, but end up in other fun conversations.
Of course, if you prefer to stick to sports these conversation starters can do the trick.
My current travel schedule takes me all over the country covering football and hockey. In each city I try to find something unique or local to the area. (It’s how I ended up at a Piggly Wiggly grocery store somewhere between Milwaukee and Green Bay on Saturday night, but that’s an entirely different story.)
Here’s what not unique – the way fans talk about their team and sports in general. Fan bases have their own identities, but the way they actually talk about sports is similar. That means if you have a topic and something to say, you can talk to any fan you encounter.
These sports conversation starters can help you with that this week.
Sports conversations are a great place to practice the skills you need in other conversations.
For example, diversity of thought and being inclusive at work requires the ability to listen to colleagues with different experiences and backgrounds. Practice by listening to fans with different opinions and backgrounds.
You don’t have to cheer for the same team, see eye-to-eye on a big free-agent signing or agree on the best player of all time. But you can join the conversation with the intention of listening and respecting other fans.
Here are a few topics to get those conversations started this week.
If initiating small talk isn’t your jam, then bring the conversation to you by displaying the logo of your favorite team where people can see it.
You could wear it, use a notebook or pen that has a team logo or make sure it’s in view of your Zoom background. Sports fans will pick up on it and ask.
If you do feel like striking up the conversation, these sports conversation starters will help.