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"Wow, that's a good question!": How to Start Working Relationships

I want to make sure we have a good working relationship. What do you hate that clients do? What ruins a good working relationship with you? What should I avoid?"

That's the question I've learned to ask whenever I start a new working relationship.

It works with just about anybody. I always try to ask with new vendors we hire at Tortuga, people I work with on set, contractors for home stuff, and people in Hollywood.

I even asked a new literary manager I started with last week.

His reaction was one that I've gotten a few times before.

Stunned silence then music to my ears, "Wow, that's a good question!"

Everybody else asks, explicitly or implicitly, "How do I get the most from you?" Instead, you're the person who wants to make your collaborator's life better. You'll start the working relationship in a positive place.

The person will then enthusiastically proceed to answer what they hate.

I think the question is successful because everyone loves talking about themselves, and it's easy to rant. And they don't have to make promises about what will make you succesful, which everyone tries to avoid.

Just listen to their answer. Then avoid those pitfalls.

It's a classic case of doing better by avoiding being dumb.

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