Posted on: July 26th, 2012 by Jen Mueller
Talk Sporty to Me Blog

Jen Mueller Interviewing Ichiro after his final game at Safeco Field

It was a first, and quite possibly a last.

Wednesday afternoon, following the Mariners game I approached Ichiro and asked if he had any final thoughts to share with the fans during a post game interview.  He paused for a minute, nodded and said, “Let me get my interpreter.”

I was shocked.

You see, earlier in the week Ichiro had been traded to the Yankees and Wednesday marked Ichiro’s last game in Seattle for the season, and possibly his career.   He had never before done an impromptu “walk-off” interview.

He was incredibly gracious during the interview and showed true emotion about leaving a team and a city he’d been a part of for 11½ seasons.

I covered the Mariners during his entire career, and worked very closely with the team in the last 5 years.  My conversations with him were usually very short, and mostly just pleasant exchanges.  Here’s the conversation we had most often:

“Hi Ich.  How are you?”

To which he would reply, “Hi Jen.  I’m good.”

That’s it.  But you know what?  It worked.  For a player who doesn’t openly speak English, those exchanges were enough to build rapport.  He also made observations about the way I went about my job and watched my exchanges with his teammates.

All of those factors came into play when I asked him to do something he had never done in Seattle.  I got the interview in the moment it counted most.  To be honest, I wasn’t sure he would say yes because I didn’t know how he viewed our relationship.

After the interview, he gave me hug.  That said it all.

When it comes to your workplace environment, don’t overlook the short exchanges.  Recognize that you are forming relationships with coworkers and colleagues whether it’s obvious to you or not.  That process happens through:

  1. Your personal interactions with colleagues
  2. Observations about the way to go about your job
  3. What colleagues observe in your interactions with others

It all seems relatively small, until it helps you land the conversation you really want to have.

ROOT Sports Reporter, Talk Sporty to Me CEOJen Mueller, America’s Expert Talker, helps business professionals understand the sports conversations that happen every day at work.  Jen’s practical approach helps professionals join the conversations, sound intelligent, and understand how their communication skills can make ’em or break ’em in business.  Her conversation strategy comes from her 12 years of experience as a sports broadcaster.  Jen is available to speak for keynotes, presentations and workshops.  Contact for more information and read more at