The importance of Communication and your career

The music industry is one big relationship, where communication is the ultimate part of it’s existence.  Having people skills, common practically and good communication will get you very far in your career. Whether it be on the industry side or as an artist/band.

Here 6 key details in how communication can play into your career and business:

1. Giving and Taking Criticism

Whether you’re working in the industry or as an artist, criticism is bound to come up. Criticism is designed to be positive, however there seems to be some negative connotations around it. Here are some quick tips on how to give and take criticism so that it benefits all parties. When giving criticism make sure you have a true motive for the criticism, what are you trying to gain from giving the critique? Criticism is supposed to be used to better someone, so they understand where they can improve on something. Make sure you know what you are talking about when giving the critique, no one wants to hear someone who knows nothing about the topic telling them they’re doing something wrong. It will just turn out bad for everyone.

Now, when you’re taking criticism it is important to realize that even the best get criticized. Consider who the critique is coming from and the value it holds. Is this person a mentor, someone who has been in your foot steps, or someone just wanting to give you their two cents? Determine if this critique is meant to be destructive or constructive, it will help you figure out how to take it. However, just because a critique is destructive doesn’t mean that you should toss it away, keep yourself mentally strong and thank the criticizer and in the end just don’t take yourself to seriously.

One of the surest marks of good character is a man’s ability to accept personal criticism without feeling malice toward the one who gives it.”-O.A. Battista

2. Giving and Getting Coaching/Advice

Like criticism, coaching and advice are around any industry. However, unlike giving criticism, most people like giving advice. When giving advice it is important to have a motive and remember the purpose of the advice. Some people don’t like receiving advice, or don’t like asking for it so it is important that if you feel someone needs it try to nudge them to ask for advice but be patient and don’t force the advice down their throat. Ask provocative questions and identify what kind of advice the person needs and wants. Make the advice realistic, and relate it to your own past experiences. Sharing stories about yourself when you went through the same problem can be a solution to giving advice without someone asking for it.

Asking for advice and coaching can be difficult. Many don’t want to admit they need help so it is important to get advice that is helpful. Try and develop an obsession for feedback, this is a great way to receive quick and easy advice and it makes it easier to get used to getting advice as well as critique. Learn to ask the right source, and don’t limit yourself to one source. People have many different view points, and it is important that when you’re getting advice to talk to as many advisors as possible. However, make sure the people that are advising you are credible and have some idea of what they are talking about. In the end, always thank people for their advice and if you aren’t looking for advice make sure you are firm, but gentle, in telling people. Don’t send mixed signals, don’t ask for advice when you really want affirmation.

“Always listen to the advice of others — it won’t do you any harm and it will make them feel better.”

3. How to Resolve Conflicts

Conflict is bound to happen no matter what side of the industry you work on. Personalities clash, and ideas collide, however there are some simple steps to take in order to resolve or minimize conflicts. Determine the nature of the conflict and deal with it promptly. There is nothing worse than a conflict that just gets pushed under the rug, anger and resentment can build and build and what originally was just a small conflict can turn in to a career ruining fight. Always assume there is a resolution to the conflict, if you go in to it thinking it can’t be solved — it won’t be solved. Turn off the want for a “winning” and “losing” situation, conflict is not a sport, and making it a competition will only result in bad blood and remember both sides can be right. Work together to find a solution and negotiate, even bring in a mediator if the issue is needed. Get rid of sarcasm, exaggerations, acting incredulous, dismissing people, and condescending tones. These only cause more conflict and issues among the problem. Lastly, remember to pick your fights, you can’t take on the world, so decide which problems are worth your time and energy.

“Speak when you are angry — and you’ll make the best speech you’ll ever regret” -Laurence J. Peter

4. Responding to Insults, Gossip, and Insensitivity

Unlike criticism and advice, some people are out there to just try and bring you down. Especially in the music industry there are so many people out there who have access to you, someone is bound to start something. Avoid people who exhibit a “put-down” demeanor and manner, some people are just around to give people a tough time and try to be as condescending as they can. Learn to clarify rather than have a witty comeback, or wear the remark and go along with it, both of these tend to drain the fun out of it and the insulter will usually be put off. Gossip is likely to come around as you grow in the industry, once you become somebody people start to talk and sometimes untrue things get out of hand. It’s something you can’t avoid, but it is something you can ignore. Make sure the person who spread it knows it’s not true, it could be something they assumed or, like a game of telephone, they heard something wrong. If they are really intent on spreading a bad rumour for their own comedic purposes, letting the important people in the industry around you know it’s not true is more important then setting the other person straight. However, if the gossip is not career threatening, have some fun with it. Making gossip less of a bad thing and more of a comedic item makes it more entertaining for you and less entertaining for the people spreading it.

“How people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours” -Wayne Dyer

5. Body Language

Body language is as much a part of communication as any other part. The better you grasp what your body says, the more consistent the message you send will be. Learning how to speak at certain pitches and volumes will help your communication grow. Speak at a slower rate when you want to convey seriousness and deliberation, but you can speak faster when you want to convey excitement and enthusiasm. Try to avoid playing with things when you are talking, playing with pens, pencils, gum in your mouth, or whatever can distract the person you’re talking to and makes you seem nervous or not interested in the conversation. Stand or sit tall, rather than lean against something. Good posture conveys the message of self-confidence and competence. Standing with your shoulders back, your arms comfortably relaxed at your side, and your weight evenly distributed, gives the appearance that you are confident in what you are talking about. Another item to consider is using eye contact, this can show respect and build rapport with others, making eye contact can show an individual that you are interested in what they are saying or that you think it’s important that they know what you are saying. However, avoiding eye contact can say that you aren’t interested or you don’t think they are worth your time. Eye contact is so powerful in our culture, we summon waiters, taxi drivers, and more by just “catching their eye,” we reprimand people with a glance, and you can show love with just a look. Eye contact can be the most powerful tool or most dangerous weapon — depending on how you use it.

“When the eyes say one thing, ad the tongue another, a practiced man relies on the language of the first” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

6. Presenting Yourself Through Social Media

Social media is the largest form of marketing both products and yourself right now. It has been called the “world’s biggest cocktail party.” You can reach just about anybody from just about any part of the world. However, with the positives and reach that come with social media, comes the uncertain connotation of words spread without verbal emotion. In the music industry it is important to present yourself properly through social media, learning the right people to contact, and the right conversation to join in on. From creating the right profiles and following the correct people, social media is the new key to success. Record labels and management companies are starting to look more at how many followers and social media power you have rather than just your shear voice or sound. It is important for them to know that if they put their time and money in to you that there is people already out there that want to hear it. Now, that’s not saying that just because you have 30+K followers on Facebook or Twitter that you’re a shoe in for any record label or management company you want, neither is it saying the opposite. Nevertheless, having similar profiles on all your social media sites, and showing that you put time and effort in to presenting yourself on social media as well as working on your music, makes it easier for a record label or management company to judge you and to get a better feel about what you are about.

“Good communication does not mean that you have to speak in perfectly formed sentences and paragraphs. It isn’t about slickness. Simple and clear go a long way.” -Thomas Dismukes

The music industry may be more laid back than some other workplaces, working in your jeans is pretty normal, and sometimes work involves listening to live music and having a few drinks. But, the thing that often separates those who are able to make a living in the music industry versus those who don’t last long, is the ability to enjoy these benefits while taking the job seriously and learning how to communicate properly. If you want to learn more, I would highly suggest reading the book “Communicate With Confidence” by Dianna Booher, and again, good luck!

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