Our Blog Posts will help you reach your full potential in becoming a confident conversationalist. New topics each week.
Halfway through the NFL season I feel (mostly) comfortable with how I’m maintaining and building relationships without stepping foot in a locker room, on a sideline or being able to have in-person conversations.
All the time I’ve spent over the years getting to know the Seahawks players and coaches pays off now when I have to rely on different forms of communication.
Here’s the thing – you can’t maintain a relationship if you never started building one.
Every conversation counts towards building relationships, and every single relationship I’ve built inside the Seahawks locker room started with small talk.
Small talk matters. Make the conversation count. Use these sports #ConvoStarters to get the ball rolling.
When you’re emotionally connected you take action. It’s true in relationships, politics and social issues. It also shows up at work in the form of employee engagement. Doing good work might always be a driving force, but the motivation to continue doing good work comes from the connection you have with your colleagues, managers and leaders.
That’s where vulnerability comes in. When you drop your guard, people understand who you are, not just the plan you’re following or the work you’re doing.
It’s one thing to say you’re willing to be vulnerable and it’s another to get comfortable sitting in those moments where you’re really not sure how people will react.
There’s a way to practice this and get better at showing vulnerability - ask a question you don’t know the answer to. Like, really don’t know the answer to. The uncertainty in the seconds between that type of question and the answer is...
I can’t believe it’s November. I also can’t believe my brother hasn’t sent his yearly wish-list email yet. His birthday is next week, and for the last several years he has sent a combined birthday/Christmas wish list to the entire family. At first I thought it was ridiculous, then I found it helpful, now I look forward to seeing it.
I realize you don’t care about my brother’s birthday. Here’s what you should care about - having a strategy that allows you to show up consistently to the point people expect to hear from you.
Once a year isn’t enough to build a business relationship. You need an opportunity to converse or interact monthly and weekly. These weekly conversation starters help with that.
I’m here if you need me.
You know you can reach out anytime.
Let me know how I can help.
We’ve all said things like this with the very best intentions and we’ve heard our friends, colleagues and business contacts say the same thing back to us.
And yet, when we actually could use a little help we’re hesitant to reach out partly because it’s a vulnerable ask especially if the help we need is pulling ourselves out of a funk or getting past strong emotions during a pandemic.
How do you even start the conversation when you’re already overwhelmed, sad or frustrated. You’d like to know you’re not alone without feeling rejected if you don’t get a response. You certainly don’t want to impose on someone and add to their stress levels.
Here are ways to initiate a conversation when you need help, support or just a quick pick-me-up.
Revisit a previous experience/conversation. ...
The date caught me off guard.
It shouldn’t have, I look at the calendar every day but yesterday I realized this is the final week of October. Then I realized how much I had planned to get done but am still hustling to finish before the end of the month. Things I thought would be so easy to accomplish now feel like a grind. How often has this happened to you?
How often does this show in up in your conversations? That Zoom catch-up you meant to schedule, the long overdue call home to check in in on family, the follow ups you intended with clients.
Busyness and overwhelm can trump best intentions. Build those conversations and storylines into your regular interactions by using sports small talk.
You don’t need lengthy conversations to stay in touch, you do, however, need touch points. A quick email or text that says, “Wow! What did you think of how that game ended?” or “That was a big win for your team yesterday.” Is a way to stay in touch,...
How do you find your voice?
It’s a topic I’ve shied away from in the past because I didn’t have a good answer and quite honestly wasn’t even sure if I’d found mine. Unless the question was directed at finding my voice as a broadcaster. I know how that came about.
I remember how unsure I felt early in my on-air career at hearing the sound of my own voice. It’s a weird feeling, even if it’s the job you’ve prepared for and the role you’ve always wanted. Hearing yourself on TV or radio sounds different that you might and it’s unnerving.
I felt pressure to say the exact right thing and to sound like a broadcaster in the process. As a result, I didn’t sound like myself, I wasn’t connecting with the audience and I was too preoccupied to enjoy the moment and just have fun.
It took time, years as a matter of fact, to find my voice as a broadcaster both in what I said and how I said it. It took being on TV every day...
All of those Zoom meetings you have are they spur of the moment or are they scheduled?
My guess is they’re planned. There aren’t many spur of the moment interactions these days and that works to your favor in being able to prepare for small talk.
You’re not randomly going to bump into a colleague in the hall, elevator or coffee shop but you’ll see them on your regularly scheduled meetings. Knowing that makes it easier to prepare and brush up on small talk topics this week.
What if you practiced diplomacy in conversations where emotional responses are the norm? Like in sports small talk.
It’s common, expected and even encouraged that sports fans react emotionally to outcomes that affect their team or favorite player.
But what if you changed the tone of the conversation this week and choose a more diplomatic way to describe your enthusiasm at seeing a division opponent or rival lose on a last-second play? (Or your joy at watching Tom Brady lose track of the downs during a Thursday night loss to Chicago.)
What if you practiced controlling your emotions in conversations and scenarios where emotional responses are acceptable?
What if that carried over, not just in your conversations but in how others started interacting with you?
What if it all started with these sports conversation starters this week?
As a keynote speaker my favorite part of any presentation is seeing the "ah-ha" moment. Recognizing when the audience has heard the message in a new or different way. It's exciting and it's gratifying to watch a message land.
As a leader you want to see those moments happen with your team. There's just one thing you should remember, each member of your team is at a different point in their journey. Just because you've had a light bulb moment doesn't mean you can trigger that for someone else if they're not ready.
According to Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wager, it's part of the self-awareness needed to be an effective leader. The short video explains more.
Commit to listening to the people around you, identify where they're at in their journey and then see where you can help and what you can learn.
There are a number of conversation skills that impact your ability to be an effective communicator.
Controlling your emotions is one of those skills.
You can be convicted, passionate and well-intentioned but if you can’t control your emotions while conveying those sentiments the message you’re trying to convey will get lost in the emotion you display.
I realize emotions get the best of us sometimes and sometimes you just need to vent and get something off your chest. I also know that whatever you communicate most consistently will shape the perception people have of you and what it’s like to work with you.
For example, If you’re an unbearable jerk after your football team loses, you’re not going to be able to convince colleagues that won’t be your response to a poor outcome at work.
That’s the easy example. Sports always is.
Which is why sports small talk is a good place to practice the conversation skills you need in bigger moments...