One of the pitfalls in building your success as a singer, singer-songwriter, entertainer, or musician is poor relationship skills. If you treat others with a lack of respect, are inconsistent in terms of performance quality, or don’t always follow-through on commitments, you’re headed for disaster.
Word will spread quickly if you’re perceived as a unreliable or a flake. The next thing you know, finding gigs, co-writers, players, and eventually inspiration will become a chore that yields very little to help you succeed. So, the best way to avoid such a disaster is to gain an understanding of key relationship skills and then apply them to your professional and personal pursuits.
Put Alone-Time In Its Place
One thing to bear in mind is that not all creative artists are extroverts. Many require “alone time” to get creative juices flowing, to focus, or even to check out. Some artists need to think things through or work things out alone when inspiration strikes or when confidence is a bit shaky. But you must become disciplined enough to not let that frame of mind interfere with your ability to engage others.
You want to keep it in check as much as possible when you’re in a rehearsal situation. You want to be able to support and offer feedback for each other. As much as possible, your collective or collaborative creativity should be the focus of your rehearsal time.
Still, the creative self will often make demands for privacy when you’re in a rehearsal or even in some situations where you’re engaged with other singers, writers, and players. If you’re in a rehearsal situation where something is triggered that spurs that “let me think about it” impulse that makes you want to run off someplace secluded to play by yourself, make a note of the idea and let others know it’s something you need to bounce around by yourself first. The point is to clearly communicate what’s going on so that nothing else is read into your behavior.
Assess + Address
Start first by setting aside some alone time to assess your skills at relating to others and to lay down some basic rules to follow. Begin by making a commitment to make all of your creative partnerships work. Write down the names of band members, co-writers, coaches, studio contacts – all people you relate to on a regular basis in the pursuit of your artistic or creative success.
One by one look to see if there is any tension, poor communication, or deception that has occurred between the two of you. Write down the issue and a statement asking for forgiveness. Then, follow through via a text message, email, letter, phone call, or face-to-face delivery to set the record straight. This will clear the air and the set stage for moving forward in a positive direction. If any of these people have mistreated or deceived you, it gives them permission to confess as well.
Compliment + Critique + Consult
Make a pact to move ahead by being straightforward and truthful with no threat of retaliation. Always provide a genuine compliment with each critique you give; and then, follow your critique with suggestions for improvement.
Make sure you always ask how you can help. Receive criticism with gratitude not attitude. Be honest in how it makes you feel, and always ask for help. This keeps communication open and positive and encourages healthy relationships. If a critique ticks you off in some way, vent creatively, or use it in your next workout!
Look for the humor in all potentially touchy situations. It’s a great ice breaker, a fantastic tension reliever, and it goes a long way to loosening up creativity as well by allowing people to just be who they are. In fact, look for opportunities to do fun things together as a group. Engage in activities where laughter and cutting loose are actually encouraged.
Keep It True And Clear
Aside from commitment, the biggest key to strong creative relationships is clear, open communication. Just because you’re talking to each other does not necessarily mean you’re communicating. Clear communication requires being open and honest in what you share, but it also requires a caring and attentive listener to receive the messages! You will never have a bond of real understanding if listening is not engaged.
The strong relationships you form creatively will have a positive impact on the relationships you form with your audience. The confidence, humor, performance quality, and all elements that come from your preparation for a gig or recording session will resonate with your audience. The audience response you receive will feed your on-stage or in-studio presence and camaraderie.