Oprah Winfrey learned how to get every meeting off to the perfect start. (She asks these three questions.)

And in the process of conducting more than 37,000 interviews, she learned also to listen for one thing -- and to use it to guide her interaction with that person.  

As Oprah says:

Everybody that I had on the show, at the end of the show, would (whisper) something to me like, "Was that OK? Was that OK?"

That includes people like Barack Obama, George Bush, and Beyonce.

No matter how important, no matter how successful, no matter how self-confident, almost everyone asked, "Was that OK?"

Why did so many people ask that question? 

Here's Oprah again:

At the end of the day ... whatever your profession, wherever you are in your life, in your relationships ... every person you encounter, that person wants to know, "Was that OK?" 

What I started to hear was that what people are really saying was: Did you hear me, and did what I say mean anything to you? 

And so I started to listen with that in mind, with that intention of validating that your being here, your speaking to me ... is important because you matter.

Every (encounter that you have), the person just wants to know, "Did you hear me ... did you see me ... and did I say anything that mattered?"

Which makes perfect sense. We all want to feel like what we say and do has meaning. We all want to feel like what we say and do makes a difference.

Whether in business, in our personal lives, even in the briefest of encounters, we all want to feel like we matter.

How to Make People Feel Special

Oprah's goal is to validate the other person: to show that she not only listened but heard the other person -- that the other person matters.

And so can you, even in the briefest encounters.


1. Listen 3X more than you talk. 

Ask questions. Maintain eye contact. Smile. Frown. Nod. Respond nonverbally.

That's really all it takes to show other people they're important.

Speak when you have something important to say. Just make sure you define "important" as what matters to the other person. 

Not to you.

2. Shine the spotlight on them.

Meeting someone for the first time? Offer a sincere compliment. It might be big. It might be small. Just say something complimentary. Even if you just say, "I'm delighted to meet you." If you show you mean it, the other person will feel flattered.

Never forget that a compliment is the perfect icebreaker.

If you already know the person, and know you'll be seeing them, come prepared to share something they've done well recently. Not only will they appreciate your praise, they'll appreciate the fact you cared enough to pay attention to what they do.

Which will make them feel more accomplished and important. Which will help them feel like they matter. 

3. Put away all your "stuff."

Don't check your phone. Don't glance at your monitor. Don't focus on anything else, even for a moment.

You can never connect with others if you're busy connecting with your devices.

Want to make people feel like they truly matter? Give them your full attention. 


Not because you will someday receive. But simply because you can.

Giving helps establish a real connection. Giving helps establish a real relationship. Giving shows that you think about what the other person thinks or feels or cares about. 

The act of offering, of helping, of stepping in before you are asked? That shows you care.

And that makes sure the other person knows they matter.