Education is a kind of continuing dialogue, and a dialogue assumes, in the nature of the case, different points of view. -Robert Hutchins
Oprah Winfrey was the most successful daytime TV star of all time and is still one of the most influential people in America. When she promoted a book on her television show, it would typically be on the bestseller list within a week. However, I’d wager that Ms. Winfrey’s success would have been far less dramatic if she had spent all those years lecturing her audience for an hour a day. One of the characteristics of her show that has made her so influential is the fact that she created a one-on-one dialogue with her guests as well as with her audience. Her audience, and her influence, grew year after year.
We can learn from her success. We too can have more influence over others if we create two-way communication. One of the most common complaints I hear from front-line employees is that top management does not take their ideas seriously and does not address their concerns. Many companies today have a top-down communication in place that can stifle creativity and build resentment in front-line employees.
Many of these employees have ideas that could revolutionize the company, but far too often, the ideas are overlooked because the people at the top are too focused on the status quo.
Herb Peterson was a McDonald’s franchise holder in 1972 when he had an idea to add breakfast to the menu. At that time, McDonald’s was just a hamburger place without a lot of additional items, and no one would want to go to a hamburger place for breakfast. Herb went ahead and crafted a Teflon circle in his garage in order to be able to easily cook eggs Benedict on a hamburger grill, and he took the idea to the McDonald’s headquarters in Chicago. Today, it’s estimated that McDonald’s sells about $4 billion worth of breakfast per year.
Those dialogues that we create with the people who work for us can provide us with valuable information – both good and bad. This information is critical in helping us make solid decisions in the marketplace.
If you want to influence others in a positive way, take a lesson from Oprah and McDonald’s and create dialogues rather than monologues. Practice good listening skills and communication skills, and create two-way communication to build a good team.
Gain Enthusiastic Cooperation: Encourage and Facilitate Two-Way Communication