All Ears English Podcast - 1927: How to Build Relationships Over Close Competitions in English

This is an All Ears English podcast episode 1927.

How to build relationships over close competitions in English.

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Have you been invited to an election watch party where the candidates are neck and neck?

Or a sporting event with your colleagues where you have to comment on how close the game


Find out exactly what to say in these moments in English today.

Hi, Lindsay, how are you?

Awesome, Michelle.

How’s everything going in your world?

Everything is good.

Everything is good.

You know, recently, I mean, a couple months back, we had the midterm elections in the

U.S. and there were there were a lot of really close races, like some that were too close

to call at first, right?

Yeah, I was actually traveling in Argentina when this was happening for better or for


I guess maybe that was better to be out of the country.

But I remember checking the news and thinking, oh, looks like this person lost, but they

actually won.

And I was kind of bummed, but yeah, I was very close.

Neck and neck.


Neck and neck.

You know what?

I feel like that.

Like when you hear too close to call, isn’t that what you always hear on the news on election


Like they go like that.

It’s like the start of the night.

And it’s like I remember I saw I think it was on NBC and it was like, and this race

is too close to call.

And this race is too close to call.

And it’s like, you know, with five percent of the vote, all right, what are we even doing


You know, they go for it.

You know, they line up all the advertisers that night or they know people are sitting

down to watch.

It’s always the same kind of announcers.

It’s that young guy from very strong, I think, Brooklyn accent, you know, that guy with the

dark hair.

And he’s like very sounds very Brooklyn.

It’s just so funny.

And every year he’s right there reporting for us.

He’s probably like in his 30s.

I don’t know.

And which and which channel?

I think it’s CNN.

Oh, and I can’t I don’t know.

Anyways, it’s always the same people like you have that career that just analyze election


There’s like three of them on.

Oh, yeah.


Well, there’s John King.

He’s on CNN.






He’s one of them.


There’s Harry and 10.

Maybe you’re talking about Harry and 10.

I think it might be Harry.

I think it is.


It’s Harry.



I mean, I think at least for sure in the past several years, a lot of races have been too

close to call.

It’s very it’s it’s not often just like a big oh, one person.

It was so easy to tell that, you know, but some some are predict predictable, but sometimes

there’s really we don’t know.

I know.

I know.

And speaking of races and competitions, I’m really impressed to see the US.

I think they won their game against in the World Cup.

Who do they beat?

I’m not really a soccer fan, but I know it’s a big deal that they made it to where they’re


I don’t.




Yeah, that sounds right.

I think that’s what it was.

They’re doing well this year.

Pretty impressive.

I yeah, I, I have to confess.

I’m also not watch.

No, not watch.

We’ve never really been a big soccer country compared to other countries in the right.

I’m really not even sure if that answer was correct.

That’s shameful.

I think you’re right.

I think you’re right.

So close soccer matches, close political races.

This is what we’re getting into today.


Yeah, so we’re going to talk about some vocabulary today, some expressions that you can use when

races are really close.

And so it’s funny that we call a race like races.

That’s not always just like an actual race, like running a race, you know, like that is




Sometimes we use race to talk about like an election to write.

That’s kind of strange that we do that.


And where let’s talk about connection here.

When and where can we why is this a good connection skill for our listeners?

What did you say?

Oh, my gosh.

Well, I mean, I actually remember you were talking about being out of the country.

I was out of the country when Obama won his first really.

You were in London.

I was in London.

That’s right.

And I was in a bar like in an election watch party, OK, with some of my roommates and then

a lot of people I didn’t know.

And this is and I also remember where I was when Trump won.


I was.

And it is like when you’re especially watching something, you know, maybe at a bar or anywhere,

you know, you’re watching with like a lot of people.

You want to have that connection like you.

This is the way to kind of like start mingling with people, start talking when you’re out

in an event.

Sometimes they have watch parties for sport games, elections, whatever it is, 100 percent.

And I think relationships are formed over sometimes intense experiences and nothing’s

more intense than if you really believe in a political candidate or especially World

Cup, I guess, because the whole world loves soccer or other sporting sport matches.

You know, you can form intense bonds over these words or having something to say in

these moments, guys.

Yeah, of course.

Of course.

So let’s go over some of these these expressions today.

So the first one is this too close to call.

So, I mean, what do we mean by that?

Too close.

What do we what does it mean by call?


So when we say call, we mean decide or determine or announce a winner.

Mm hmm.


So, yeah, you can’t say who won yet.

It’s before the results are in, before the match is over.


It’s often used with elections, as we said.

So, for example, Pennsylvania is too close to call, but we should have more votes coming



So in elections, there are always certain states that are too close to call.

It’s always predictable.

It’s like Arizona, Pennsylvania, Florida, sometimes these purple states.

And Colorado is actually technically a purple state, too.

But it’s leaning more blue now.

So yeah.


Very interesting.


All right.

So, yeah.

I just watched your governor on a TV show.

Oh, Governor Polis.

People love him.

They love him.


He seems great.

They were saying he could end up running for president.

I think he should, because what I like about him, we won’t get too much into politics here,

but what I like about him is that he used to be a businessman.

He was an entrepreneur.

He founded, I think, ProFlowers or or something like that.

Oh, I didn’t realize that.

I know.

So he’s business-minded, which I think is important.

People that know the economy understand small business, but he’s also tolerant socially.

Like he’s-

Right, right.

Because you said about Trump at first, it sounded like you were describing Trump.

Oh, God, no, no, no.

The tolerant socially part was the-

But Trump just inherited a bunch of money and reinvested it into hotel.

I mean, no, that’s not business skill.

It’s another kind of business, right?

I’m talking about small business, like the grind.



Small business is huge.

Yes, exactly.

So good.

So the next thing you can say is neck and neck, right?


Is to say something is very close.



And it always sounds like neck and neck, but I think it’s actually neck and neck.

But whatever it is, it’s just neck and neck.


Neck and neck.

Neck and neck.

The runners were neck and neck until one tripped over a tree branch.

Ooh, bad.



Or they are both such talented singers.

I think it’s going to be neck and neck.


Good stuff.

We just did the turkey trot-

You did?

With my family here in Denver-

Oh, wow.

Right before Thanksgiving dinner.

And that was fun.

We were all kind of neck and neck until the end, and then we just sprint and see who wins,

you know?




Good stuff.

Thank you so much, Michelle.

What’s the next expression?


So, the next one we want to talk about is by a something.

So, we have by a hair and by a nose.

Oh, by a nose.

I don’t know that one.

That’s new for me.


It’s the same thing as by a hair.


I’ve heard it before, but I feel like I hear by a hair more frequently.

But think about it.

So, Lindsay, what is by a hair?

By a hair.

Just imagine how thick a hair, how thin one hair is.

That’s the margin, right?

That’s the margin.

That’s the difference between this person and this person, right?




So, what’s an example?


In the Kentucky Derby, the winner really won by a hair.



So, that means it was just so…

I mean, you think of the Kentucky Derby as a horse race, and you think of, like, literally,

you know, like…

You guys are on video.

You can see.

You know, by a hair.

It’s just like by a teensy, teensy bit.

A tiny hair.

A tiny hair.

It was so close.




The NASCAR race was so close, but he won by a nose.

I know some people think he didn’t win at all.


And if you’re looking for a truly cultural experience, go to the Kentucky Derby, right?

Because it’s so…

It’s so Tennessee.

It’s in Kentucky, right?


Obviously, it’s in Kentucky.

Oh, my God.

What am I thinking?

It’s so Southern.

It’s so…

They wear these big hats.


That’s what everyone thinks about.

Is it mint julep that they drink?

Oh, yeah, yeah.


It’s a very clear tradition.

The Kentucky Derby is filled with tradition.

So if you have a chance to go, I would go if I had a chance to go for sure.


An experience for sure.


Good stuff.


What else, Michelle?

So the next one is down to the wire.

So this one can be used in a couple different ways, but we’re just going to focus on one.

So for example, the race is really down to the wire.

We just have to see what happens.

So what is that?

How can you explain that one?


So I would say it’s, well, it’s getting to the end, right?

That’s kind of what I think of.

And it’s probably implying that it’s close as well.





Down to the wire.


And then we’re going to do one more, which is tight or close.

All right.

That’s the most straightforward one.

That’s the most straightforward one.

So that’s how to describe a competition that is, you know, we don’t know what’s going

to happen.

So you could say it’s going to be tight, but Vicky should pull it out in the end.


Or it’s such a tight race, but it looks like Paul will be the winner.

So guys, that would be the one to start with, you know, if you want to keep it simple and

start commenting on these things.

Yeah, that’s easy.

And then you could say, oh, yeah, it’s a real tight race, isn’t it?

And then we can add in the idioms after that, right, Michelle?


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OK, so, Michelle, do we have any quick conversation we want to do here about this?

Yeah, we do.

I want to hear.

I want to hear from you.

Are you competitive?

I’m probably not the most competitive person.

I know people who are way more competitive.

What about you?


Especially, especially in things like sports, things like that, because this is not my strong


I am not athletic.

I will never win a running race.

And like those things I’m OK with, with like theater and singing, I think I used to be

a little bit more competitive.

And now I’m just a little bit more relaxed.

But with like with sports, I mean, I’m the type of person, if it’s fun, I want to do



Like I. Yeah.

With bowling.

I am the world’s worst bowler.

I mean, yes, you’ve never seen anything like it.

But guess what?

I actually love to go bowling.


That’s good.

That’s good.

But like, I don’t have to be good at something to find ways to enjoy it.



So I can just enjoy the experience and kind of laugh at myself and whatever.



That’s a good thing, Michelle.

I like that.

I like that.

I guess in some ways I could be competitive.

You know, where it really counts to me.

It depends how important it is.

I think in the sports or the events that we’re better at, we tend to obviously be more competitive

because we want to play at a higher level and we want to test out our skills and see

how good we actually are.

You know?


I mean, do you think that the world like society or culture is more competitive lately or less?

Or do you think we can really say, hmm, is it more competitive?

So I guess it would have to depend on the sector.

Like are we talking about business?

Are we talking about sports?

Um, I can’t, I don’t know if I can really answer that.

It depends on where we’re.


What do you think?


Um, I think, yeah, in some ways, yes.

And in some ways, no.

Like I do think the global health crisis kind of maybe changed some things that may be making

some things less competitive.


I mean, the, in some ways, like the work environment of, you know, some people started like leaving

the workforce or wanting to work less or, um, we talked about that recently.

Um, so in some ways I think people maybe, um, found different priorities.







And we’ve talked about that on the show recently when we talked about the quiet quitting thing

and approaching that from different angles for sure.

Love that.



So in that sense, a little bit less, but I’m sure there’s many other ways in which we’re

more competitive.

I think in politics, we’re probably even more so like it’s getting more competitive and

not in a healthy way.

Not in a healthy way.

I think politics has become more like identity politics where we’re in like the seventies

or the eighties.

People could probably talk about these issues and leave their identity behind and just actually

debate the issue itself.

But now it’s like we all get it.

The issues intertwined with who we are and there’s just no coming to a consensus there.




So that’s become more competitive for sure.


So interesting.

Interesting how these things evolve over time.


So should we do a role play?


Let’s do it.

So here we are watching a race.

Hopefully the Kentucky Derby.



I don’t know.


Let’s just say it is.

Let’s say it’s the Kentucky Derby.

All right.

Here we go.

Oh my gosh.

Who do you think won?


Well, it’s still too close to call.

I mean, we have a minute left actually.

Oh, right.


This is a tight race.


It’s really neck and neck.

Oh my gosh.

I can’t believe it.


We’re down to the wire.

Oh my gosh.

Oh my gosh.

Stacey won.


That was really by a hair.

So Stacey must be our jockey.

Or the horse.

Or the horse.


The horse’s name could be Stacey, I guess.

I guess I wasn’t writing this with the Kentucky Derby in mind, but guys, you get the point.

Let’s see.

So you said…

I said it’s too close to call, right?

So we don’t know.


It’s too…


It’s too close to call commentary.

And then we say, oh, right.


This is a tight race.

Tight race.

Some of the basic ones, you can just say it’s a close race.

It’s a tight race.


Start with those if you feel more comfortable.



I said, yeah.

It’s really neck and neck.


I can’t believe it.

And then I said, yeah, we’re down to the wire, right?

And then you said that was really by a hair.

So somebody won, but it was so close it was almost impossible to tell.

I’m thinking this could be really useful because a lot of times when you get to the higher

levels of business, like our listeners are getting to, you might be invited by your boss

or by your clients.

You might invite your clients to come and use your company seats at a basketball game

or at a baseball game.

Often large companies will buy a box, right?

And then they will have that for their clients or suppliers, whatever.

And you need to have conversations.

And let’s imagine maybe you don’t actually care about what’s happening.

You still need to say something and you can say you can get away with not having insight

on the team or the sport by saying things like this.

Do you know what I mean?

Yeah, I do.

I do know what you mean.


Just throw some things out there.

Even if you’re not quite sure or you don’t really care, just say it.

Just build those connections.

It doesn’t matter.


Someone else might be saying, oh, this player, that player, oh, he should have missed that


He made a hundred of those last season.

You can’t say that because you don’t know the sport, but you can say these things.

Just commentary around how close it is.

These are universal things that you can talk about, right?

So don’t feel like you can’t comment if you don’t know all the details.


I love it.

I like the idea of, you know, where does sports intersect with business and how can we get

in there?

And, you know, most of the time you’re not necessarily watching the game.

You’re actually just talking to the people around you, your colleagues, your clients.

But it matters in these moments, you know, what do you say?

Yeah, that’s interesting.

I think so.


Good stuff, Lindsay.

Well, wow.

That’s awesome.

So, guys, this is useful for talking to people about competitions.

It’s good for also predicting what you think might happen.

So try them out and you will, yeah.


And if you are into it, right, like a presidential race, remember that, like I said before, we

said the relationships get formed in those intense moments.

So it could be a moment to really make a build a bond with someone and make it closer to

that connection.

That’s a really important point, Lindsay.

All right.

I guess we’ll leave it there.

Thanks, guys, for listening.

Take care, Michelle.


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