Why should I have to cater? (Adapting your communication)

What we have here is a failure to communicate!

Communicating to your bandmates can be a challenge at times especially when addressing issues. I have failed to communicate time and again and I hope that through each experience I get a little better each time. A while back, we talked about perception and self-awareness and how they affect communication, especially in the case of being in a leadership position, such as musical director. In the process of being self-aware, you have to pay attention to everyone else and their needs as people in a group setting. Not everyone will have the same needs. Some needs will be met by default and others will take some more effort.

I mentioned the word ‘cater’ in the headline for today’s post. Often times it can feel like we are ‘catering’ to our peers/bandmates if we alter what we are doing to meet their needs. This really is not the case though in most normal situations. Remember the post about being in a service position? If you are in a leadership position, then you need to make every effort to meet your band’s needs. Every group/person is different and I won’t get into how far you need to go with the service element, but we can discuss a couple of things to keep in mind while communicating:

1. Being blunt – This type of communication will not work for everybody. The ‘tell-it-like-it-is’ mentality can be rough on some people. If being a little more kind or less forceful with your speech nets good results and a better product, then it might be time to adopt that type of communication for those people who respond well to it.

2. Feelings – Adults can get their feelings hurt. As much as we would like to think that everyone in a band is on the same page and understands that if we have to fix something then it’s okay, this isn’t always the case. Many, many people deal with a large amount of insecurity. Communicating to an insecure person can be one of the most challenging things to do in a band environment (or anywhere for that matter). Some people will shut down, some will get on the defensive, and others will continue like nothing happened but harbor their frustration inside. Each of these situations have their own challenges and they aren’t easy to work through. However, paying attention to verbal and nonverbal cues can help you see how they might be responding to your communication style. This might seem like a ‘duh’ statement, but it is easier said than done.

3. Individual needs – Everyone’s needs are different. An amusing example is that while you might be God’s gift to singing, your band mates might not want that much of you in their monitor mix because it overshadows what they need to hear to play the song well. Each member of the band needs certain things and this includes what they need from you as a musical director. Simply asking them what they need from you can go a long way to strengthening your communication with the band.

Now, it’s your turn! How do you communicate with your band? Is there a musical director-type position in your group? If not, how do the members communicate with each other? Please share your answers in the comments below!

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