Our Blog Posts will help you reach your full potential in becoming a confident conversationalist. New topics each week.
I talk for a living. Most often, I'm talking to athletes as part of my job.
Those conversations look a lot different these days.
There's no face-to-face interactions, no hugs as we welcome each other back for a new season. There are no casual conversations at their lockers while I make my rounds through the locker room.
All media availability is done through video conferencing and most of my personal interactions are limited to waving or shouting "Hello!" across a football field. Those distanced interactions are better than nothing and important during the current state of a pandemic, but I also feel sad and left out.
Face-to-face conversations are one of the ways I stay connected with athletes, and all the people I work with. I can still do my job, but I wonder about the value I can provide without the same type of interactions. There's a loneliness and tension that's creeped in as a result.
I'm not the only one who feels this way. I'm not the only one who's...
I was about 13 when I wrote a letter to my favorite sportscaster in Houston. I told her how much I loved the work she did and how I thought it would be so cool to talk to players. Much to my surprise, she responded. She was gracious and encouraging of my interest in sports broadcasting but it’s these words that made the greatest impression, “Athlete are people too.”
It was a little puzzling to hear that as a teenager, but it’s a phrase, a statement and a truth that has driven every interaction I’ve had with athletes for 20 years. It’s easy to see athletes as superheroes or super-human based on their talents and abilities, but at the end of the day they’re people.
I’ve heard from plenty of sports fans who want athletes to “stick to sports.” That would be like me telling you to “stick to your job, because what do you know about sports?”
You don’t have to agree with what athletes say. You probably don’t...
My Ten Percent Happier meditation app asked that question every day for a week. Each day I clicked “Next time” because it just seemed like a hassle, like something that would take too much time, like something I didn’t want to deal with.
When I finally chose “Update Now?” it took less than 60 seconds and the app functioned better.
It got me thinking about other “Update now?” scenarios I have intentionally chosen to deal with “Next time.” My attitude is at the top of that list. There are also a few beliefs around work, my value and self-worth that need to be updated.
As leaders you probably don’t have the bandwidth to choose “Update now” for every situation, problem or challenge, but you also can’t select “Next time” every time and expect to maintain team morale, productivity or make a difference as a leader.
Pick one thing you can choose to “Update Now” and give...
Here’s a conversation starter and a challenge… What can you say outside of “good” when responding to the question, “How are you?”
There are literally dozens of words that are more interesting and convey a more genuine emotion than “good.” In addition, your response to “How are you?” directs and guides the conversation.
So, this week challenge yourself to respond with something better than “good.” Ask others about words they’d use in place of “good” and then throw in one of these sports conversation starters.
There's a reason you’ve probably been told to “keep it simple” at some point. It's a reminder not to overthink or overcomplicate the process or the idea.
The advice gets doled out when making goals you actually want to keep, when problem-solving, presenting new ideas, creating new products and even decorating your house.
Here’s another spot to keep it simple – sports small talk.
Small talk with colleagues is not the time to overthink or prove how much you know. Small should be a relationship building activity. You need to be present and engaged in those moments. Keep the conversation starters simple – that doesn’t mean boring - so you can fully engage in what your colleague is saying instead of coming up with your best retort or comeback.
These weekly sports #ConvoStarters are made for that purpose. There’s just enough information for you to engage in a short conversation that simply helps you build relationships.
"What did I miss?"
It's how you might start a conversation that's already in progress and it's an important starting point for every email you send while working from home.
You might think you're at the beginning of a conversation and that your colleague or employee isn't missing anything, but without regular small talk or overhearing conversations at work they're missing pieces of information.
Every email you send is like joining a conversation midstream. Make sure you include details that provide perspective.
Among the many headlines I read in the last week this one stands out:
Here’s the basic premise – no chitchat leads to feeling less connected to colleagues, less productivity and reduced social skills.
Small talk is, in fact, critical to business.
It’s one of the reasons I’ve committed to providing weekly sports conversation starters every week for the last 11 years.
Here’s a list of topics you can use this week.
Thought leadership is more than being seen as an expert. It's a way to drive business. An ongoing study by Edelman and LinkedIn found:
"Companies with the best ability to produce timely, thought-provoking thought leadership content are much more adept than their competitors at capturing their customers’ attention and turning that attention into positive results."
Positive results for a company = sales.
Positive results for you as a leader = influence and power to persuade.
Thought leadership isn't reserved for a select few at the top of a company. Anyone can contribute by being thoughtful, timely and persuasive in their messaging.
It's a lot like being a newspaper columnist. Well written columns are designed to get you to think and persuade you to see a different point of view. Jerry Brewer, sports columnist for The Washington Post does this on a weekly basis. He joined the Learn from a Leader series in July to describe how he approaches thought leadership and...
“I’ve got better things to do than watch sports.”
It’s feedback I’ve received from a few anti-sports fans in the last couple weeks.
I get it. Watching hours of sports isn’t for everyone (especially if it’s not your job.)
But here’s what those folks aren’t getting – it’s not about the time you spend watching sports, it’s the space you create for others to talk sports that makes sports talk valuable at work.
The sports outcomes aren’t as important as the outcomes you create in building relationships.
And you already know brushing up on your sports knowledge doesn’t require hours in front of the TV, you’ve got this weekly cheat sheet to help out.
You've probably noticed I talk about more than sports. There's a reason for that.
As I mention in the video, there's a correlation between sports, communication skills and leadership.
If you're not using sports fandom or sports experience to improve your communication skills or further develop your leadership abilities you're missing out.
Check out some of the blog posts and sign up for monthly or weekly emails. Send me an email: [email protected] if you're ready to provide your team effective communication training with a whole new twist.