Words & Sports

It’s Time to Back Up that Talk

Nobody likes a big talker in basketball. Maybe they actually live their talk and play well—maybe they’re just big words. But either way, the bragging and self-praise grate on people’s nerves and drain the energy of fans and teammates alike.

The best players let their skills do the talking. They don’t waste time bragging, and when they win, they thank their fans and coaches for believing in them.

In the business world, we have our big talkers, too. Maybe it’s not so bad if they follow through with hard results, but they rarely actually deliver on the fame, glory, and money they promised. More often, they’ll drain you of valuable time and money. How do you avoid these big talkers?

1. Find Proof.
If an individual makes promises that seem extravagant, or touts credentials you’re unsure about, ask for proof. Find examples of their work or ask around. An established professional should have no trouble backing up their promises with hard evidence. Even someone who is just starting out in your industry should be able to offer references from either college instructors or from colleagues from a previous phase of their career—some indication of their ability and their work ethic.

2. Start a Trial Period.
Let’s say you need a new sales rep, someone who will actually grow the business. You don’t want to have to repeat the hiring process if this rep falls through. Let’s also say that the best candidate you have doesn’t have an established track record in your industry, but has a lot of good-sounding ideas and talks big. If they’re as good as they say they are, you want them on your team, but you don’t want to just take their word for it.

Why not offer them a trial of a month or two? Set a concrete goal, like adding a certain number of new clients. If your candidate performs, he or she gets the job. If not, you’re well-rid of the braggart—someone who can’t prove themselves might not even commit to the trial.

3. Grin and Bear It.
Sometimes you’ll hire someone who is all talk anyway. Sometimes you’ll let a client talk you down in price in exchange for sharing resources that never materialize. Especially in the beginning, you’ll make mistakes—forgive yourself, and make the best of it. Take whatever steps to contain the damage, and learn from your experiences so you can set stronger boundaries next time, but in the meantime, follow through on whatever promises you made. Provide good service. Don’t let one big talker push you into giving less than your professional best.

Big talkers can drain the energy and resources you need to grow your business. You owe it to yourself to do what you can to protect yourself and your business from braggarts who don’t follow through.


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Main Points:

  • Ask for proof of accomplishments if a potential employee talks big
  • Consider negotiating a trial period so the candidate can prove their worth
  • If it is too late, you may just have to “grin and bear it.” Learn from the experience, make the best of it, and move on




Image of the Damian Lillard vs Russel Westbrook, was taken by James Schumacher under the Creative Commons 2.0 License