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I'M ONE TO TALK

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 Apr 10, 2022

I love a good list. I love knowing that if I follow a series of steps I’ll get the outcome I want. It doesn’t matter if it’s my daily to-do list, a recipe or workout plan.

Here’s what I found myself contemplating recently about those lists – I usually follow them in chronological order, but they almost always start by looking at the end result. I start by looking at what I want to achieve and then create the list that produces the outcome. 

I would encourage you to look at small talk the same way. Identify your end result first and then determine the topics, create the questions and engage in the conversations that get to your desired outcome.

When you approach small talk that way, sports topics and sports conversations become very valuable in the connections you can make, sports-adject topics you can discuss and follow up opportunities you can plan. Here are a few topics you can use this week to get the ball rolling.

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Learn from a Leader: Leading Strong Personalities

Strong personalities can be an asset for any team. Often those team members are driven, ambitious, competitive and confident in their skills. They want to forge ahead and are always looking for ways to win. 

It's not hard to see where they stand, but they can present challenges for leaders. 

There's probably a specific person who comes to mind (it might even be yourself) when you think about a "strong personality" at work, but for right now let's look at a different type of workplace environment - an NFL locker room. 

I've worked in NFL locker rooms for more than 20 years. I've worked closely with the Seattle Seahawks as their sideline reporter for 13 seasons. I know from personal experience and observation that the personalities in an NFL locker room more closely resemble your team at work than you realize. There are introverts, extroverts, easy-going guys and strong personalties. 

Effectively managing strong personalities is critical for creating buy-in. That's...

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Sports Conversation Starters for Your Workweek

This week marks the start of the Major League Baseball season. Yes, it’s a week late due to their lockout, but each team will still play a full 162-game schedule. Trust me, I know that’s a lot of games. I work the majority of those games as part of the Seattle Mariners television broadcast.

Here’s why I bring this up, the start of baseball season is your chance to map out and plan follow up conversations with baseball-loving colleagues. You’ll know they love (or at least, enjoy) baseball if you hear them talking about Opening Day this week. Ask a few questions and then make notes in your calendar to follow up at various time during the season. You don’t have to talk baseball every day, or even every week, but it’s an easy way to connect with fans who are already talking about it. 

If baseball isn’t your thing here are a list of other sports topics you can use in small talk this week.

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Sports Conversation Starters for Your Workweek

I highlighted and starred a comment from a Seahawks player during a press conference last week specifically for this weekly reminder. The cornerback was asked what led to his jump in production last season and he said once he developed a familiarity with his teammates he was able to hit his stride. He could anticipate what the guys around him were going to do. He was communicating at a higher level. In the end, he was rewarded with a new contract.

The way you work with others affects your productivity and success. You can’t do it alone. Actually, let me rephrase.. you can do it alone, but you won’t be as successful as the person who gets along well with their team.

Small talk is the starting point for getting along with your team. You can use lots of different topics, but I always lean toward sports because of its popularity and the follow up opportunities it creates. Here are a few sports headlines making news that can work in small talk this week.  

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Learn from a Leader: Dealing with Imposter Syndrome

 

Often in effective business communication less is more. 

A more concise email gets read. Shorter meetings can increase engagement. And simply making a decision without justifying everything that went into your decision can be empowering. 

When you have combined facts, expertise and experience you don't need to say anything else. You might feel like you need to convince people you're right, but the more you try to talk them into something the easier it is to talk yourself out of the confident decision you made. 

Author Katrina Adams is also a past president of the United States Tennis Association. She shares a number of experiences and leadership lesson in her book Own the Arena. You can also access the full Learn from a Leader conversation and the entire library of leaders using this link.

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Sports Conversation Starters for Your Workweek

For a second straight week I have a confession to make - I never did get around to filling out my NCAA Tournament bracket. It's a little embarrassing since I work in sports, but I'm also a real person with a lot on my plate.

I will still talk about hoops and the NCAA Tournament because it's what sports fans are talking about. I might not go into many details and I definitely spend more time asking questions and listening, but I don't opt out of the conversation altogether. There are ways to alter your sports conversations based on your sports knowledge base. 

Here are a few talking points to boost your confidence when talking sports this week. 

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Already a Sports Fan? Here's what you need to know about talking sports

It’s interesting the assumptions we make about sports fans. From what we think a sports fan looks like to how they should sound in a conversation. To me, the most interesting assumption is that sports fans don’t need any help in talking about sports.

Just because you know sports doesn’t mean you’re using it to your advantage – or in a way that won’t alienate others at work.

I frequently see articles or resources on how to talk sports if you’re not a sports fan. Heck, I’ve been quoted in those articles, written books and created resources around that. There’s an assumption that if you’re already a fan you don’t need help talking about sports, but there are things you’re missing. 

As a lifelong sports fan and a 22-year sports broadcasting veteran I talk sports for a living and spend a lot of time around people who enjoy sports and talk sports. For as much as I enjoy those conversations, most of the...

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Sports Conversation Starters for Your Workweek

conversation starters Mar 14, 2022

Wowza! There is no shortage of sports headlines to talk about this week. From Tom Brady un-retiring to the NCAA Tournament and the start of baseball Spring Training games -  sports fans are buzzing. There’s a lot you can talk about and the NCAA Tournament is an easy entry point to basketball conversations.

Here are a few ideas:

  • “How many brackets did you fill out?”
  • “Who do you have in the Final Four?”
  • “Who do you think wins it all?”
  • “Who do you want to win?”
  • “Which team will pull off the biggest upset?” 

Here’s a confession:

I haven’t watched more than 20 minutes of college basketball this season. I’ve been busy covering other sports, but I’m still going to talk about the NCAA Tournament because it is it’s own season. Anything can happen this month. I don’t really need to know what happened prior to the tournament, because when I watch games or highlights the announcers...

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Sports Conversation Starters for Your Workweek

conversation starters Mar 07, 2022

If you want the ability to give direct feedback and have honest conversations that are well-received at work you need a good relationships with your colleagues. That requires you to talk about something outside of work.

Every athlete and coach I’ve talked to throughout my 22-year broadcasting career has talked about the importance of getting away from the field, court or rink when it comes to building relationships with teammates. It’s about getting away from work and getting to know people on a personal level. For athletes that means staying away from sports talk. For you, sports can help cultivate the relationships you need to be more honest, well-received and productive at work. These topics can help you jump into small talk this week.

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Learn from a Leader: Building Self-Confidence

You are not your successes or failures. You are not your accomplishments or disappointments. 

It doesn't always feel like that but it's an important distinction for building confidence. Focusing on what we do instead of who we are makes our confidence and self worth conditional. Dr. Chantale Lussier is a mental skills consultant who works with athletes and high performing individuals. She joined the Learn from a Leader series to share this insight about developing confidence. 

Here's one way you can catch yourself in the act of conditional self-worth: "I am" vs. "I did."

I did x,y,z at work. 

I am proud of how I showed up to do the job. 

 

I did not get the new job.

I am pleased with how my interviews went.

You won't always be happy with the outcomes. You won't always feel good, but if you can force yourself to think about the difference between "I did" and "I am" you''ll have better self-awareness of what's driving your confidence. 

You can find more...

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