THE WEEKEND READ

These Two Short Words Will Change Your Career — No Matter What Level You're At.

If you want to:

  • instantly shift your relationships at home, work and out and about...
  • nearly eliminate frustrating, circular, ineffective conversations...
  • start experiencing clear and more constructive dialogue...

Make this commitment right now, today:

Make your first response to a Yes or No question: "Yes" or "No."

Literally.

When the person you asked to read your script says, "Are you repped?," you aren't, and you may want to say, "It's really hard to get an agent when you can't even get people to read your script. Hollywood has so many gatekeepers." When they then decline to read you, that's further proof to you of how impossible it is to get to the next level of your creative career.

Instead, just reply, "No." And stand by for why they ask. Or politely include, "Why do you ask?" If, in fact, they don't read repped writers, they may ask you to sign a waiver. Or they may recommend a reader or competition they trust. Or they may say sorry and wish you well. Doesn't all of that seem simple when you read it? And incredibly quick? On to your next request - with this relationship still intact for when you are repped.

When your boss asks you if you were in the office at 9 a.m. yesterday, and as a manager, you're always the first one in, you may long to say "I'm here at 9 every day!" Because you know what they really mean is "You're an unnoticeable or ineffective team member." The shift in your boss's tone then further confirms your sense of how underappreciated you are in your role.

When your boss asks you if you were in the office at 9 a.m. yesterday, as a manager, you may long to say "I'm here at 9 every day!"

Instead, reply, "No." And wait for the follow up. Years ago, when I was the boss in this conversation, my planned next question was, "Do you know anyone who was? I got a message my package was left with someone, but I can't read the signature." But we didn't get there immediately because my team member came back with that surprising response. I knew we needed to pause right then to connect so I could clearly state how hard-working and conscientious I believed them to be...and so they could relax some of the guard they'd put up after a series of horrible bosses (as I learned in that chat).

Leaders, the same approach builds team trust and wipes out a lot of unnecessary confusion. The answer to "Can we set time to talk about a raise or promotion?" is not "Well, we're looking at a pretty tight budget this year." It's "yes." That's right. "No" is off the table. Their question wasn't "Will you give me a raise or promotion?," even if that's the goal. The question was "Will you talk to me about it?" Answer the question that is asked. And as a leader, strive to over index on the "Yes" side.

For the rest of your day today, practice saying a simple (not a defensive or hesitant or snarky) "Yes" or "No" in response to a Yes or No question. Then breathe. Don't fill in any blanks for the person who's talking to you based on: 1) what happened in the past (with them or with others) or; 2) what might happen in the future (based on this conversation or others). Stay right in the moment and allow the present to unfold before you. Be open to the unknown neutral, or even beautiful, possibilities on the other side of your simple answer. Then be confident that you have both the brilliance and the boundaries to calmly navigate whatever follows after you reply.

Be open to the unknown neutral, or even beautiful, possibilities on the other side of your simple answer.

Will you give it a try?

☐ Yes

☐ No

☐ Why do you think I won't give it a try?

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DMA is a veteran entertainment and tech executive and strategic consultant. She is the author of Write It, Pitch It, Sell Your Screenplay and The Show Starter Reality TV Made Simple System, both taught in media programs nationwide. DMA is a career-long member of the Producers Guild, TV Academy and American Mensa and is the founder of Korgi, digital "superboards" with the templates, training and tools you (and your team) need to succeed.
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