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

Business Communication Skill - Asking Yes/No Questions

business communication Feb 11, 2023

Most sports fans watching a game focus on the game action. Makes sense right? Here's what else I tend to notice, the type of communication that takes place during a game. 

It's often very direct and concise because there's not a lot of time to discuss options during the middle of a game. That brings us to a communication skill that will make you a more effective communicator at work - asking Yes/No questions. 

I know somewhere along the way you've been told not to do that. I also know it's potentially bad advice. There's tremendous value in giving someone an easy answer and limiting their options. You see it all the time in football. 

I'm not suggesting that every question be in this form, but if you really want a response to an email including "Let me know if you have any questions"  isn't as direct as saying "Does this timeline work for you?" 

One approach gets you closer to your end result than the other. It might take an extra minute to think through...

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Sports Conversation Starters for Your Workweek

conversation starters Feb 06, 2023

According to a recent study done at the University of Kansas quality conversation makes our days better. Interestingly enough, the definition of “quality conversation” in their research ranges from joking around to catching up and valuing others and their opinions.

Here’s what I found interesting, they didn’t specify how long a conversation needed to be in order to improve connection and overall well-being.

That means the length of the conversation doesn’t determine the quality of the conversation.

To me that reinforces the fact small talk can count as quality conversation IF and WHEN we’re intentional about it. You can make it a meaningful exchange by preparing and having something to say. Here are a few sports headlines that can help with quick, quality interactions this week.

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Personal Branding and Sports Fandom

Talking about the outcome of a game is part of being a sports fan. It's also part of your personal brand. 

That might not matter so much if you only talk sports with your closest friends. As one of my Instagram followers pointed out, every fan can talk for hours about how terrible the NFL refs/officials have been in recent years. 

Here's what I want to point out - if that conversation takes place at a sports bar, tail gate or game itself that's one thing. If it's taking place at work that is an entirely different story. Being emotionally invested as a fan can lead to emotional responses to outcomes, coaching decisions, play calls, etc... That type of response isn't necessarily the message you want to send to colleagues, managers or clients.  

As a sports fan you can talk about sports however you want to, but understand you are talking about more than an outcome. If your sports narrative includes consistently blaming the officials for an unfavorable outcome, it's...

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Sports Conversation Starters for Your Workweek

conversation starters Jan 29, 2023

The Super Bowl matchup is set. There’s a huge NBA milestone on the horizon and there are a handful of topics you can use in small talk this week. Sports is more than stats and scores, you’ve read this from me before, but you may or may not have seen the most recent Thinking Outside the Box Scores video that could be really useful this week because of LeBron James and I’m launching my new cooking show I Cook, You Measure on Friday.

Sports talk and sports conversations come in many different forms. Find one that works for you and use these talking points as conversation starters this week.

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What do you and LeBron James have in common?

You're both working toward a goal. 

LeBron James is about to reach an NBA milestone and become the all-time leading scorer in NBA history. Your goal might not be as lofty, but you're still working toward one. 

And here's where we can think outside the box scores and use a major sports headline as a way to check in with your own progress. 

You don't have to be a basketball fan to recognize the name LeBron James. You don't have to care about his milestone, but I know you care about yours. So make it about you. Use sports as a trigger or reminder for tracking your own progress. 

It's just one of the ways you can use sports conversations and sports fandom in productive ways at work. 

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Sports Conversation Starters for Your Workweek

conversation starters Jan 22, 2023

Our work relationships are far more important than we give them credit for.

That’s one of the key findings in a recently published book on the scientific study of happiness. The authors also note that it can be difficult and awkward to form relationships because the modern workplace is maximized for efficiency and the ability to work independently. There’s also the fact that many conversation topics are off limits and taboo.

So, what can you do to build relationships that lead to more satisfying relationships at work? Start with small talk. Sports small talk in particular could be the entry point you’re looking for with so many topics you can’t (or shouldn’t) talk about at work.

You don’t have to care about the outcome of a game to engage in a short worthwhile conversation with a colleague. You can learn a lot about the people you work with in every interaction even if it’s just a conversation about one of these sports topics making...

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Don't point fingers. Use sports instead.

business communication Jan 22, 2023

Pointing out a mistake or initiating a conversation about poor performance can be a challenge in business settings. Especially if you don’t like confrontation or when it feels like you’re pointing a finger or calling someone out. 

Instead of avoiding the conversation use a sports example to as a launching point into the topic that needs to be addressed.

Time management was a huge issue during the NFL Wild Card games. The outcomes of those games doesn’t matter. It’s about the opportunity to have a bigger conversation about something that matters to your team at work. 

Look at sports as more than stats and scores and you’ll find ways to make sports talk more useful in business. 

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Sports Conversation Starters for Your Workweek

conversation starters Jan 15, 2023

All it takes is a Sunday of watching football to realize how judgy I am. I’m not proud of it, but I did find myself making unfair judgements about teams, players, coaches and fans based on what I saw on TV. (As a point of reference, I’m an NFL sideline reporter and rarely have an entire Sunday to watch football but the Seahawks played Saturday and lost so I had a day on the couch to watch football.)

I’ve spent 20+ years in locker rooms and I love my guys, but I can understand why opposing fans might not feel the same way about all the players I’ve covered. I also know from personal experience that getting to know players (i.e. people) on a personal level makes a huge difference. Being willing to engage and cultivate a relationship is the difference between being skeptical and becoming a full-blown fan. 

Let me sum up this personal revelation by saying this – you choose the relationships you have with the people around you. You can choose to get to...

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Make Winning Obvious

In sports it is painfully obvious you need to outscore an opponent to win. 

If you say, "That was a big win!" everyone - even non-sports fans - knows that means one team scored more points than the other. 

Outscoring an opponent isn't a key to the game it is the measure of success. 

Why am I belaboring this point? Because we rarely make it this simple, straightforward or obvious in business. Things get convoluted quickly. There are multiple interests and just like with any game plan, multiple ways to get to the end result. But unlike sports, we rarely make winning as obvious as we should. 

As mentioned in the video, winning looks different for different people. The bottom-line drives decisions, but that means something different for a CEO compared to a manager compared to a direct report. 

That brings us back to Thinking Outside the Box Scores... it should be painfully obvious to everyone on your team what counts as a win. You should be able to communicate...

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Sports Conversation Starters for Your Workweek

conversation starters Jan 08, 2023

Football is too violent for some people. Baseball is slow for others. Hockey doesn’t make sense to one group of fans while basketball and soccer has never been an interest to others.

You don’t have to share the same opinion about sports as everyone else, but you should consider respecting others for their opinion. You might think the conversation is just about sports, but it’s also a chance to practice conversation skills (and maybe empathy) that’s needed in business conversations. You don’t have to agree but try to talk (and listen) to other sports fans this week using these sports conversation starters.

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