Mark Levin, CAE CSP
Have you ever wondered why Oprah Winfrey always shows up on those lists of “Most Admired Americans” or “Most Influential People?” After all, Oprah’s not a world leader or famous scientist, she’s a Talk Show host! Why would that make her “admired” or “influential?” (Of course, giving cars away to your audience doesn’t hurt your ability to be liked and admired).
One of the reasons that she’s so esteemed is that, if you really analyze it, Oprah doesn’t have a talk show- she has listening show. Watch her on her show, then compare her to other “talk show” hosts like David Letterman or Conan O’Brien (who is no Jay Leno, much less a Johnny Carson, in my opinion). Anyway, guests on the Letterman or O’Brien show sit on a chair off to the side while the host sits center stage behind a (raised) desk. There’s no question about where the “power” is on those sets.
Now watch Oprah. Her guests are on a couch, literally inches away from Oprah. She gets eye to eye with them, and then she uses one of her most powerful secrets to success. Frequently, after her guest has made a comment, Oprah will begin her comment with something like “well, you said….,” – and then she uses her guest’s exact words before she starts to give her opinion. When someone hears you use their exact own words back to them, the only conclusion they can draw is – she must have been listening!
And that’s what people value, what they treasure – the feeling that what they say to you is important enough that you really listen to them. It’s a simple technique, and you don’t need to use it every time you want to say something, but if you want to build some real trust and effective communication in your workplace (or your home, for that matter), then build a reputation as someone who listens – to everyone.
Oprah does it, and it seems to be working out pretty well for her, don’t you think?
Mark Levin, CAE, CSP, is an internationally respected speaker and author who specializes in leadership development and membership consulting to hundreds of organizations throughout the world. He can be reached via his website at www.baileadership.com.