Realistic Music Careers 101: Arguing
COLUMN: The most effective approaches to arguing, communication and problem solving for artists is crucial in this business…I can do a better summary than thatâ€¦No, lets try thisâ€¦Fighting and arguing sucks. How’s that for a summary? Much better.
Whether you are in a band, running a business, in a relationship or any other type of interaction that consists of two or more people with strong views, strong opinions and strong personalities, disagreements are going to occur. It is human nature and like mentioned above, sometimes that human nature just sucks.
You are going to have confrontations. You are going to have disagreements. You are going to get frustrated and upset. So why not work to learn the best ways to communicate, as well as the best ways to argue, so these problems can be a little more easy to deal with and a little less stressful?
Look at patterns that emerge when you argue. What are things that set you off? What are things that set the other person or people off? It is very common to find that many arguments reoccur not based on the item or issue, but how people are communicating and approaching that issue or that item.
If you are saying or constantly hearing â€œwe always have this fightâ€ or â€œit always goes here,â€ then maybe it is time to look at the patterns of communication and make a dual effort when you are addressing issues to work out the issue being brought up as well as touching on and identifying the traits and tendencies that get you to the bad place you may commonly go to.
First off, it comes down to trust and respect. Can you and your business partners, your band members or your husband of wife establish a trust and a promise that no one is trying to belittle anyone else? Setting the foundation of trust and securing the fact that both parties will not attack, both parties are aiming for solution and not just to fight. Add the promise of everyone doing their best to not become defensive, jump the gun, overreact or assume?
While these things can be challenging at times, you need a starting point and foundation from which you can grow. This will help the communication during the tense moments as it will also help make communication better during the easy times, too. Make an agreement to trust that the other person is not intentionally trying to hurt the other. Make the agreement to build trust around knowing that everyone is looking for resolution.
Watch yourself just as you are watching others for commonalities. Get away from telling some one what they are doing and why they are doing it. You don't know everything and that approach can come off as condescending and assumptive and that will almost inevitably anger the other person.
Identify things together, but listen to each other. You may have a conclusion as to why so and so always does this or that. You may have identified some patterns, but what if there is more to it? Do not claim to know everything. It will only bring the tension to a higher level.
A couple fighting tactics…keep your fists high?
Listen to what the other person is saying. Do not start planning your response as the other person is speaking. That is being defensive and it will pull your attention away from what the person is saying. Put the ego away and listen to the other side instead of preparing your response. Prepare it after they are done.
2. Stay calm.
Do your best to breathe, to stay calm, to hold back on your volume and erratic behavior. Try not to wave your arms around or make frantic movements that will only add more stress to the situation.
3. Make eye contact.
Look the person in the eye. Show you truly want resolve. It can be hard when you are upset, but try to stay connected by eye contact. Although at the same time, for some people, making eye contact is interpreted as an aggressive maneuver. It totally depends on the person. This is a good thing to know about who you are arguing with. Personally, I prefer the eye contact.
4. Work to understand the other point of view.
Listen and work to comprehend the other side. Just because you see things one way does not mean the other party sees it the same. Just because you have resolution and feel content does not mean the issue is resolved. Get out of the selfish mindsets of solution for one and look for solution for everyone involved. You don't have to agree with the other opinion, but if you can work to understand it, you are meeting halfway and together you can get to a resolution faster. It is not about agreeing with the other party’s point of view. It is about understanding it so you can all move forward together.
You may see things a certain way. Give the other person the benefit of the doubt or ask them why they did something that really upsets you. If they have a different view and did not do it to upset you, it is time to re-examine and regroup. Explain how it hurt you as you work to understand the intentions you felt were not the true intentions. Its called trust and you have to apply it.
5. Keep the goal of solution, resolution and problem solving in mind.
Keep the goal in mind that you are trying to fix an issue while learning to communicate better at the forefront. Do not forget that arguments will occur again, so make the next one a little better. Keep your attention on finding methods together to solve and resolve.
6. Trust the person in what they are saying.
Trust that the other person wants to solve this and is not trying to pick a fight or be difficult. You may be angry and you may see it another way, but if they are coming at you honestly and you do not believe them, your problems run a lot deeper.
1. Do not assume.
If you don't know for sure, then do not claim it to be. Tell someone what it feels like for you. Explain what you are seeing. Telling someone what they are doing, especially if they might not be doing that particular thing at all, can only add fuel to an already tense situation. If you are unsure about something, then ask. Of course, everyone has the right to their feelings, their views and their opinions, but if you ask someone or tell them it feels like this, you are taking a better step to solution. Still, you have to be prepared at that point to hear the reason why they see it in a different way.
2. Do not interrupt.
Allow the other person to speak. Try not to interrupt. Give the person the respect that you want when you are speaking as well.
3. Do not go on the defensive.
When someone is addressing an issue they are concerned about, listen and try to respond to that issue. Do not turn it into defensive responses where you compare them of doing the exact same. It is something to bring up, but take the issue that is being brought up and respond to that instead of changing the topic or trying to re-point fingers. This, again, will only add stress to the existing stress.
4. Do not go on the attack.
Do not start attacking. Again, go after the issue at hand with the idea of better communication. When you start attacking or trying to hurt, the argument is taking a number of steps backwards. Hurting someone is only going to put up the defensive walls of the person you are attacking. When those walls go up, your point, opinion and view is going to become harder to hear.
5. Do not state the redundant or rude comments that will not help at all.
Saying sarcastic things that you know aren't true are not going to help get you any faster to resolution. When you are asked a question and then go right to â€œit seems like we fight all the timeâ€, how does that help in the resolve of the issue? That is not a problem-solving approach. It may be a fact, but it is a fact that is probably known by all parties and really doesn't need to be stated. It makes more sense to be productive than to reiterate all the problems that everyone knows are present. It again, will only cause frustration. Work to ask the questions and the statement to make it better.
6. Watch for selfish traits.
Look at yourself and watch for where you may be a little stubborn and work to find ways to meet the other party halfway. Avoid the blame game. It doesn't matter who's fault it is. It is about the resolve and if it is about the fault and the blame, then get out of that relationship, business or group.
It's a challenge
Relationships of all types are a challenge. You have to decide if it is worth it. Your communication and arguments will not go away overnight or, for that matter, get better in a week. Still, small steps can be taken. If you really care and really want to make it work, then make it work, but do not half-ass it. It will only cause the same fights to constantly repeat themselves. It is going to take one hundred percent of your efforts to meet a person halfway and work together to find resolution for whatever the problem may be at that time, as well as making communication a little better and a little stronger.
Stay the course. It's a long track.
Look for small victories. Small aspects of communication growing stronger, better and more effective. Things will not change overnight, but if all parties give all their honest efforts, it can work.
Take a break if you need to and think about what you want and what you are willing to give. Research options, look into having a mediator or counselor help if you hit a wall and need a third party. Read about different techniques and make the effort if you really want it. The best relationships, the greatest love, the most wonderful connections take work and take effort. Recognize, compromise and truly work on the small steps to better communication. At the same time, recognize the efforts of the other person.
Move forward together, learn together, grow together and then experience the benefits of all that work together.
Watch out for Loren Weisman's book â€œThe Artist’s Guide to Success in the Music Businessâ€ coming soon.