For the most part, being in a band is amazing, giving you an opportunity to see the world, meet new people, and perform music you're (hopefully) passionate about. That said, the pressures of touring, recording, or even just being in each other's presence 24/7 can often give rise to tension. For this reason, being able to have difficult conversations with your bandmates is an unfortunate - but necessary - skill you must cultivate.
Guest post by Angela Mastrogiacomo of the Symphonic Blog
Most of the time, being in a band is pretty amazing. You get to play your passion, see the country (or maybe even world), connect with new people, and make a career out of hanging out with your best friends.
But what about when all of a sudden, things aren’t quite so cordial? What happens when you realize a certain member of your team is no longer the right fit or has done something the rest of the band disagrees with?
Unfortunately, it happens. Truth be told, part of being in a successful band means sometimes having to make tough decisions that keep the heart of the project at the focus, and occasionally that means difficult conversations.
Just because they’re difficult doesn’t mean you can’t do it or that they have to be horribly awkward. Believe it or not, there is a way to do this and do it gracefully.
How to have those difficult convos with your bandmates in the most graceful way possible:
Don’t gang up on them
While it’s reasonable that the whole band might want to be there for this conversation, ask yourself if it’s really necessary. If your band is 3 people, that might be ok, but having 5 people confront one person might feel overwhelming and set the stage for a pretty adverse reaction. I mean, how would you feel in that situation?
If you can, it might be best to start off just one-on-one or maybe two-on-two, and go from there. If it is necessary for the entire band to be there, just make sure there’s one main person talking and that there’s some order to it, so it doesn’t just turn into different people hurling insults when and if things get heated.
Be clear about what you have to say
Whenever I’m about to have a difficult conversation, I tend to turn into a pile of nerves. Shaky voice, sweaty palms, you know the drill. Part of it is just the process—it’s natural to not want to hurt people’s feelings or deal with confrontation—but sometimes, part of it is just not being prepared enough.
So before you go into the conversation, make sure you’re crystal clear on what it is you want to say, and ask them at the beginning of the conversation to hear you out before they respond—it’ll help you keep a clear head and not lose your train of thought.
Hear them out
That said, you want to let them know before you start that of course, they’ll have a chance to respond and that you do want to hear what they have to say. This isn’t about putting them down or making them feel bad, and so, you don’t want to do anything that might lead to that.
Then, when they do start speaking, make sure you’re actually listening. It can be tough sometimes to just interject, or push forward with our pre-determined agenda, but give them the same courtesy of not interrupting, hear what they have to say, and then really respond to it.
Don’t just feed them some canned line—have a real conversation about whatever is transpiring.
Be flexible—but don’t be easily wavered
Lastly, you want to be flexible and open to change if your mind or opinion has actually been changed, but you don’t want to waver just because you feel guilty.
Sometimes it can be easy to confuse the two—you don’t want to hurt their feelings so you might convince yourself what they’re saying is reasonable but you’ll know pretty quickly if that’s your (possibly misguided) guilt talking, or if you’ve actually been convinced to take another look at the situation.
It’s not always easy to have these conversations, but when they’re necessary, you do want to be prepared—and keeping these things in mind should help you stay focused and fair.
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Angela Mastrogiacomo is the founder and CEO of Muddy Paw PR, where her artists have seen placement on Alternative Press, Noisey, Substream, and more. She’s also the owner of music blog Infectious Magazine.. She loves baked goods, a good book, and hanging with her dog Sawyer.