Our Blog Posts will help you reach your full potential in becoming a confident conversationalist. New topics each week.
You don’t have to share the same sports interests to have a sports conversation.
Which means you don’t have to predict the fandom of the person you’re talking to before you start the conversation.
If you’re a baseball fan go ahead and ask your colleague if they saw the game last night. Wait for the response. Your colleague will tell you if they are a baseball fan and watched the game, or if they spent time watching golf instead.
Use their response to formulate follow-up questions and guide the conversation. Don’t overthink which one of these sports conversation starters will work this week. Pick one and see where the conversation takes you.
"What's the No. 1 thing I can do to have a better conversation?" The podcast host asked me. "What do you think I'm missing out on?"
It was a great question.
I don't think he was expecting the answer I gave or how practical it is: Give a better answer to the question, "How are you?"
He looked at me, a little confused. Then we started playing out the conversation and here's what happens:
"How are you?"
"I'm good! How are you?"
And then? Silence. An awkward pause. A clunky transition. A game of 20-questions. Any and all of these possibilities contribute to a desire to end the interaction as quickly as possible.
Here's what most people don't realize: Your response to "How are you?" is a critical moment in a conversation.
It's the moment you get to introduce topics you want to talk about. Your response directs the conversation. Answering with "Fine." "Good" or even "Living the dream." isn't a response most people can follow up on.
Your answer to "How...
Everyone could use a good conversation starter these days because, “Have you gotten your shot?” and “Which shot did you get?” is a terrible way to start a conversation. And asking, “What’s new?” a year into a pandemic where most people haven’t done anything is a non-starter.
You know what works as a conversation starter every single time? Sports.
There are new things to talk about every day and even non-sports fans will give you an answer that can spark a productive and enjoyable exchange. With that in mind, start talking and use these sports topics to get the conversation going.
Even if you don’t plan to go back into an office surely you’re planning to socialize in person because there are only so many virtual happy hours any of us can take.
When those in-person interactions happen there won’t be an option to turn a camera on or off. You won’t have the benefit of a chat function where you can type a quick “Hello!” to show you’re contributing to the conversation. You’re going to need to show up and start a conversation all on your own.
Which is why it’s a good idea to brush up on the conversation skills you need for those in-person interactions because we’ve been communicating in an entirely different way for more than a year. The thought of striking up a conversation out of the blue and possibly with someone you don’t know can be overwhelming right now. Even extroverts...
As we think about connecting in real life again, resuming networking habits, or maybe refining that podcast you started in the last year. Remember this: Curiosity doesn’t replace preparation.
Curiosity alone doesn’t lead to a great conversation or even a productive one if you didn’t take the time to get curious before the conversation started.
Spend a few minutes to consider things like:
How do you know this person? Are you familiar with them or do you need to do a little research?
What’s happened in the time since last talking to them? Think about what could have happened in their industry, with their job or in the world in general so you can bring empathy, understanding and perspective to the conversation.
What are you hoping to get out of the conversation? Identify the objective before you start talking so you know where the conversation needs to go.
What needs to happen for it to be a successful conversation? Drill down and get a little more specific on...
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...
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...
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.
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.
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.