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

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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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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Goal Setting in 2023. Focus on your Strengths

Not a single athlete looks at a challenge or opponent and admits defeat before playing the game.

Even if the oddsmakers say it’s improbable, even when fans hedge their bets and talk a little less trash or refuse to get their hopes up - athletes and coaches refuse to give into the thought of an insurmountable task or being outmatched by an opponent. 

It’s never about what the other team does or where they’re likely to come up short. They’re always thinking, talking and working from a position of strength and confidence. It doesn’t mean they don’t see the challenges. It doesn’t mean there isn’t a game plan in place to counter the strengths of the opponent. It means they’re focused on their strengths, they’re capabilities and their best chances to win.

The best athletes and most successful coaches don’t assume or anticipate failure before competing.

Where are you starting the year? Are you focusing on your...

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Why You Should be Thinking Outside the Box Scores

Surely you've seen the highlight by now. The final play of the NFL game between the Raiders and the Patriots. The one where New England was heading toward a win. It was almost guaranteed... until a huge mistake at the end of the game that result in an unlikely fumble recovery returned for a touchdown by the Las Vegas Raiders. 

As a football fan, I couldn't believe the end of the game. That highlight will be shown for decades. 

As a business owner, I see the potential for more conversations than just the outcome because I know mistakes happen, but they rarely happen in such a public way. The final play of that game was a HUGE mistake. Everyone at the game and on the field saw it. Millions of other people (fans and non fans alike) have seen the play. It wasn't just a mistake, it was a lack of fundamentals and there was a conversation after the game about accountability and who was responsible for the mistake and ultimately the loss. 

In sports all of that gets...

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Conversations About Accountability

business communication Dec 18, 2022

Sports small talk can make it easier to have conversations about accountability with your team at work. 

How? I'm glad you asked and I hope you're ready to think outside the box scores. 

Conversations about accountability happen all the time on game days. They're called post-game interviews and listening with a close ear can help you take the stress out of initiating tough conversations at work. 

 

Athletes and coaches talk about how they talk about they exceeded expectations or failed to live up to their expectations and standards. The final score helps set the tone for those conversations, but they are a number of stats that support their assessments. With that in mind there are two things you need to do:

1. Know the numbers that measure success. Be specific. It's not pass/fail. If you want to move the needle and have impactful conversations about accountability know your numbers and why they're tied to success. 

2. Use a local or regional team as an...

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Accelerating Feedback in Business

business communication Dec 10, 2022

Timeouts, huddles, conversations in the dugout and suggestions from a caddy are all forms of feedback that happen during sporting events. 

It's not just a break in the action, those conversations are critical for making adjustments, staying on track and being successful. When you think about it that way, it's easier to think out side the box scores and borrow a few conversation tactics from sports. 

As the video points out, it's absurd to think that a coach will withhold critical feedback until the end of the season or even the midway point of the season. So why would you do that with your team at work? 

Instead of dragging out the process or delaying conversations about feedback until it's time for mid-year reviews or yearly performance reviews, let's use sports to help accelerate the feedback process. When you see a time out called, a team huddle or a coach yell, you're watching feedback in action and this is what you're seeing:

  1. Communication that's very direct
  2. A...
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Forward Progress

business communication Dec 02, 2022

 

If you measure success by where you end up, you could be missing out on what you actually gained. 

Think about it this in terms of your performance review or year-end reviews. The ultimate measure of success is meeting or exceeding a goal, but that's not the only way to measure growth, lessons learned and skills you obtained or strengthened. 

 

 

There is value in measuring forward progress. You see it every week during football games. This is one of the ways to think outside the box scores and find parallels between sports and business. 

If it feels like you move one step forward and then two steps back, only count the step forward. It's called forward progress.  

Every week I'm posting a new video on You Tube to encourage Thinking Outside the Box Scores. You can find those videos here and subscribe to be among the first to see them. 

 

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Don't Skip the Project Debrief

business communication Nov 22, 2022

If the last thing you want to do after finishing a project is a debrief, I get it.

I’m not particularly fond of re-watching past TV shows/segments I’ve produced. When I’m done, I’m done and I’m ready to move on. Except that’s not a game plan for success. Sports gives us a great example and reminder of that.

As the sideline reporter for the Seattle Seahawks I can tell you that every Monday is “Tell the Truth Monday” at the Seahawks facility. Everyone reviews film, (Yes, I know it’s not actual film, but they still call it film study.) They highlight the successes, study the failed plays and have honest conversations about what went right and what went wrong because the film, as they say, doesn’t lie. I’ve covered more than 250 games for the Seahawks, including outcomes you don’t want to talk about much less re-live on Monday, but they do it anyway because it’s one of the ways you get better.

Let’s...

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I Was Wrong. No apologies needed.

business communication Nov 17, 2022

There is a difference between saying "I was wrong" and "I'm sorry." Both are important, but you don't necessarily need to apologize if you guessed wrong or your educated guess didn't pan out.

I was completely wrong about how the Seahawks game in Germany would play out. It gave me the perfect opportunity to practice useful communication skill in business. 

As I mentioned in the video there are times an apology is necessary, but I've seen far too many people (especially women I've worked with) default to "I'm sorry." Here's what happens when you do that: you take on unnecessary blame and criticism, add pressure on yourself and send a message that you're responsible for any and all failures. That's just not true and it doesn't position you well for future opportunities. 

Here's where sports can help us differentiate between "I was wrong" and "I'm sorry." It starts with the question "Who do you think will win the game?" The answer is a best guess and fans get it wrong...

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3 Reasons to Talk Sporty During Performance Review Season

business communication Nov 09, 2022

Could you imagine having a performance review every week?

Or having to talk about every outcome (good and bad) your team produced in a week?

Even worse, could you imagine pointing out shortcomings and pointing out the losers in the group? 

Sounds a little cringy in a business setting doesn’t it?

But as sports fans we do these things all. the. time. It's called cheering. It’s how we talk about games. It’s the criticism we dish out after a disappointing loss when we don’t have any problem calling out the player whose slump is bringing down the rest of the team.

As sports fans, we’re not only capable of delivering feedback we excel at it. And then we clam up when we encounter similar conversations in business. We dread performance reviews. We shy away from tough conversations. We avoid critical feedback.

Here are a few gentle reminders of what sports fans already know:

Feedback is both expected and obvious in sports. The dropped ball, costly...

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