This is adapted from my most recent newsletter. Sign up now so you don’t have to wait an extra week to read it next time. And of course we give away free stuff like this eBook. If you already read the newsletter, make sure you read the update at the bottom of the story on Mark Lowe.
My business cards say “sports reporter” and “expert talker” but even the expert develops a case of the “what if’s” from time to time. Aren’t familiar with the “what ifs?” It’s that internal dialogue that tries to throw you off track. For me it sounds like this:
‘What if I say the wrong thing?’
‘What if I ask a silly question?’
I thought I was good at ignoring those questions – until I was called out by former Mariner pitcher Mark Lowe, in the middle of the clubhouse. I was trying to ask for an interview to be used in the Mariners pregame show, but instead of walking up to him and asking for two minutes of his time, I beat around the bush. I stood there and hemmed and hawed for a couple minutes before he finally interrupted.
“What are you doing?” he said in an embarrassingly loud voice. “If you want an interview ask for it. You know us, you know that we’ll do it, just ask and stop dancing around it.”
I was floored – and slightly embarrassed. But he was right.
A large part of being a good communicator is having the confidence to communicate in all different types of situations. That’s one of the ways you leverage your position as a communicator.
Confidence in the skills you’re developing through the Talk Sporty to Me blogs will allow you to talk to that potential employer with ease, or approach your current employer about a problem. Need 5 minutes with a coworker to go over a project plan? Ask for it, even if you had a falling out with her while working on the last project. You can’t afford to wait for the ideal situation to strike up a conversation. You have to have the confidence to move forward and trust your skills.
Here are three things to consider if you feel your confidence failing and need a quick boost.
- Have you done your homework? Knowing the material you’d like to discuss and being able to identify specific things you want to address will help you stay on track. You’re not trying to make a social call, you’ve got work to do.
- Do you have a job to do? Not speaking up when you have a job to do will cost you valuable time and most likely future opportunities. I had a job to do in the clubhouse and needed to get that interview. Coming up empty handed was not an option in that situation.
- Do you have credibility on your side? It’s a lot easier to approach any situation if you have a few successes under your belt along with the respect of your peers. Too many people forget that they’re in this position. Flash back to a past conversation or meeting that went well to help banish the ‘what ifs.’
In case you’re wondering, Mark did give me the interview that I asked for and taught me a valuable lesson in the process. To this day, when approaching a player or coach for an interview I take a more direct and confident approach. And you know what? It works. The guys respond to it much better than taking a timid approach.
UPDATE: Thank you for all the feedback and response on this story from the clubhouse. Mark Lowe was in Seattle with the Texas Rangers this week and I had a chance to talk to him again. I asked about this particular story. Not surprisingly he doesn’t remember it as vividly as I do. (I suppose when you’re the one who feels embarrassed it stands out a bit more.) However, he did reiterate the point that its important to ask for what you need in a clear, concise way to avoid miscommunication. In addition, the simple fact that he and I were able to have a very pleasant conversation goes to show this isn’t a communication barrier that’s too big to overcome.
You just have to know how to do it. Lucky for you, I’ve got more answers and insights as to how to avoid a similar situation in your workplace. It’s a big problem for lots of people and I address that barrier and 9 others in my new program, “What Do I Say?” It’s a weekly program that runs for 9 months and will help you identify barriers to communication, learn how to overcome them and understand why you can’t let your work speak for itself and expect to get ahead.
Sign up today and start this week!