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A quick search about small talk and effective small talk reveals lists of questions, articles on the “necessary evil” of it and hacks to make it easier.
What if you tried to personalize it instead of trying to avoid it? Instead of arming yourself with a list random questions or looking for an easy way out, what if you prepared for the conversation and walked away from the interaction having accomplished something?
If you consider small talk a necessary evil of course you’re going to try and avoid it. If it’s always awkward you’re not going to initiate it and if you think it’s a waste of time you won’t bother putting yourself in position to have the conversation in the first place.
Small talk can be all of those things. Often because it’s not the conversation we prepare for.
We prepare for the big moments and the “real” conversation. We think small talk is something we endure or blow off altogether.
If there’s one universal takeaway from the Olympics over the last week – it’s that sports isn’t just about the outcomes. Sports can be used to tackle much bigger conversations, like mental health. Simone Biles is a tremendous athlete, the best in the world at what she does. And she is human just like you and just like me.
Sports at its core is about coming together as human beings and being part of a community, whether you are a community of athletes or a community of fans. You can use sports to be rude, divisive, and controversial or you can use sports to bring people together.
I hope you will choose the latter and use these sports conversation starters to build relationships in small talk this week.
I don’t think about myself as working in a male dominated environment. Which sounds odd coming from someone who’s spent 20 years inside sports locker rooms as a sideline reporter and sports broadcaster.
I get lots of questions about what it’s like in a locker room. Here’s what I see: Talented and skilled people who want to excel and succeed at a high level. People who can deliver in pressure situations because of the hours they spend training and preparing.
There are two things you should recognize about what I just described:
When I take these things into...
Last week as I stood in the Mariners clubhouse introducing myself to new players and asking for interviews, I recognized a familiar trend and pattern. On average it took about five interactions for players to smile, open up in conversations and drop their guard in interviews. Those interactions included just walking past me in the hallway, me saying “Hi” in passing, introducing myself and then asking for the interview.
Throughout my career I’ve noticed the five interactions average in building relationships with athletes and coaches.
And here’s the thing to keep in mind, the people I work with recognize that talking to the media is part of their job, but ensuring they do that willingly (I can assure you few people are jumping at the chance to talk after a loss) and openly requires effort on my part to build those relationships.
Maybe you’ve never stopped to think about how many interactions it takes to build a relationship, but you can certainly...
The world needs a lot of things right now.
The most important of which might be communication skills. Not the ability to talk, but the ability to truly communicate, engage in discourse, listen to people with different viewpoints and seek common ground.
Communication skills have never been more important.
There are ways to practice the skills you need for big moments. I suggest trying sports conversations. The video explains why.
The person who coined the phrase, “there’s no such thing as a stupid question” was either flat-out lying or unaware of all the stupid questions he/she was asking.
I know from experience there are plenty of stupid, bad, lazy and unproductive questions – all of which lead to a lot of eye-rolling, but that’s not the worst part, neither is the sounding stupid part. The worst part is the wasted time. That’s what you should be worried about.
It takes longer to get the answers you need to figure out the real issue, identify solutions and inspire action when you’re asking bad questions.
And just so we’re clear – if you are following the advice of most so-called “experts” you’re probably asking these types of questions.
Happy Holiday week!
I’ll keep this short and sweet since you’ve got a lot on your plate. Don’t forget that sports topics make good small talk options around family and friends. Debate if that’s your style but keep it light enough to avoid huge fights.
You should be connecting with people not alienating them.
I love my family, but sometimes I just don’t want to talk to them.
I’d apologize for sounding like a horrible person - but I know you’ve been there too.
I know you’ve experienced some form of family drama, dealt with conversations that get too personal, or been bored by the conversations that go on and on about your second cousin’s wife’s sister who you’ve never met. And if you’re an introvert you don’t need another reason to avoid conversations altogether.
I also know that just because you don’t want to talk to your family doesn’t mean you don’t want to be around them. But If it’s easier not to talk to your family, or limit your interactions, then try these four ways to communicate and connect instead.