When legendary filmmaker Steven Spielberg recently went after Netflix in an attempt to get the streaming service barred from eligibility for the Academy Awards.

The company shot back with a single, short tweet that proves it understands the value of communicating with emotional intelligence.

Spielberg is the current governor of the branch that represents directors in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (the group responsible for voting on the Oscars). According to a news story in Indiewire, he wants to change the rules so that streaming services like Netflix will not be able to participate in the Oscars.

The director said in an interview with ITV News that he considers Netflix to be television and believes it should only be eligible for Emmy awards, which cover television. He has also stated that he believes streaming services can pose a risk to cinemas, as more people could end up staying home and watching movies on Netflix than going out to a cinema to watch movies.

A Variety article noted that he told the Cinema Audio Society Awards in February:

"I hope all of us really continue to believe that the greatest contributions we can make as filmmakers is to give audiences the motion-picture theatrical experience. I'm a firm believer that movie theaters need to be around forever.

"I love television. I love the opportunity. Some of the greatest writing being done today is for television, some of the best directing for television, some of the best performances [are] on television today. The sound is better in homes more than it ever has been in history, but there's nothing like going to a big dark theater with people you've never met before and having the experience wash over you. That's something we all truly believe in."

He is expected to bring up his proposed change to the rules at the April board meeting of the Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Let's look at why Netflix's response was the best possible one it could have given, for these three reasons:

1. It eschews defensiveness.

Rather than getting defensive, Netflix instead decided to focus on the positive and talk about how it helps both its audience and its content creators. Netflix is essentially saying that it isn't trying to step on anyone's toes, it is just trying to make the movie watching and creating experience more accessible to a wider audience.

As entrepreneurs, it is better to focus on the positive than the negative when faced with challenges from others. Whether it is a difference of opinion or someone saying you don't belong, focus on why you are doing what you are doing and the benefit it provides others.

2. It shows Netflix empathizes with people.

By putting the spotlight on how it helps people who might not be able to get to a cinema to see a movie or who might not be able to afford it on a regular basis, Netflix is showing that it is capable of empathizing with its audience.

When we come from positions of privilege -- like always being able to afford to take your whole family out for a movie -- we forget that others are in a different boat. They might not be able to afford the hefty price tag that a night at the movies costs a big family. A family movie night out might be an entire year's worth of Netflix for them.

3. It proves that Netflix knows how to communicate with its audience.

Whereas Spielberg has been making his comments in interviews with industry magazines and awards ceremonies that the average movie goer has never even heard of, Netflix is talking directly to its audience using a platform the company knows they are on.

This is important because Netflix's message is about how it helps people and it is conveying that message directly to those it is addressing. Spielberg, on the other hand, only seems to be addressing half the people he is talking to, not really addressing the everyday movie goer who may have a different opinion on the matter.

Published on: Mar 7, 2019
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