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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 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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Learn from a Leader: Believe in Yourself

The statement is simple, but it can be the hardest to grasp.

It can be equally difficult to differentiate between feedback and validation. Having a sounding board and getting feedback on your ideas, execution and concepts is important, but if you’re initiating those conversations to get validation you’re undermining your impact, expertise and capabilities. It’s part of the conversation I had with Elaina Herber, President and CEO of the Ascend Hospitality Group, during her Learn from a Leader session in February 2021.

That attitude of knowing what you’re capable of was on full display during the two weeks I spent at Mariners Spring Training. Not a single athlete I talked to or interviewed will entertain a conversation about their shortcomings getting in their way of their success. Every single one of them knows what they’re capable of and that’s their focus.

It doesn’t mean they’re not coachable. It doesn’t mean they’re not...

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Sports Conversation Starters for Your Workweek

Small talk without intentionally is a waste of time.

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.

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Sports Conversation Starters for Your Workweek

Seemingly small interactions can make a bigger impact than is evident in that moment. 

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.

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I hate goodbyes! How to end a virtual meeting

You’ve wrapped up the conversation. You’re done. You’re ready to move on. But you can’t because you haven’t said goodbye. Or maybe you have… to every single person on the virtual call, and a dozen goodbyes later you’re still talking and trying to end the meeting.

You think back to the good ol’ days when you could just stand up and leave the room or announce that you needed to get back to your desk. Then you sigh and wonder how much longer the goodbyes will last and how much more awkward things will get. 

These days ending a conversation could be the most challenging part of starting one.

I get it.

As a sports reporter who does live post-game interviews I’ve dealt with this dynamic for about 15 years. I don’t have to tell you the most awkward part of saying goodbye is having to do it a second time.

I know from personal experience you can’t just end an interview or a conversation with “Goodbye and thank you...

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Managing Up When Working From Home

The freedom and options that come from working from home highlight the benefits of the current business environment.

The downside? There’s less contact, connection and interaction with managers and that can make it difficult to clear up misunderstands and maintain positive relationships.

For example, you can’t walk past their office to see if it’s good time to talk, and there are no organic social interactions in a hallway or elevator that might smooth over what felt like a brusque email or exchange. Plus, a lack of physical cues makes it harder, if not impossible, to gauge reactions and read the room. 

Managing up requires different skills in a work from home environment.

Building, maintaining and growing those relationships comes down to clear, concise communication. These five conversation strategies will help.

 

5 Communication Skills for Managing Up While Working from Home 

Distinguish information from “bad news.” Resist...

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