5 Tips for a Happier Work Day

A few weeks ago I was in a soundcheck with a few other bands. I wasn’t really in charge (being a featured guest), so I was just sitting and waiting my turn to check my microphone. Everyone was agitated. It was raining and getting to the gig hadn’t been easy for any of us. I could feel the bad energy spreading through the room. The other musicians were irritated with the soundmen, the soundmen were irritated with the musicians. People began sniping under their breath, little snide comments to vent their feelings, but of course we are on a stage with a thousand mics and their little comments were being broadcast for everyone to hear. This further upset the soundmen, which further upset the musicians. Even though we successfully finished the soundcheck, albeit somewhat behind schedule, we still had multiple sound issues during the show (mics going in and out, feedback, etc). Maybe the sound issues were real, or maybe it was just the soundmen getting even. Who knows? Either way, the lesson should be: don’t piss off the people in control of your sound.

That day wasn’t anybody’s fault, per se. Most of us were having a bad day, and bad attitudes spread like wildfire. I have seen it a million times, one mean word to one person, that person says a mean word to another, and boom. Pretty soon you’re in a situation where nothing is going to be accomplished and everyone is going to be unhappy.

As a musician, and as a person in general, we need other people to assist in our daily lives. Maybe that person is a soundman, a secretary, a fellow musician, or the butcher at the grocery store. When there is a task at hand it’s better if all people involved are focused on the same goal: to achieve the goal efficiently, successfully, and with the least amount of fuss. With that in mind, here are a few tips to achieving a pleasant working environment:

1) SMILE. Everyone can benefit from smiling (Men, I mean you! Smile more! Smiling is not for women only!). People like smiles. Smiles put people at ease. Try it.

2) Introduce Yourself. You will get better service if people know your name and you know their name. Don’t address anyone by “Hey, You!” It’s not polite and it makes people think you’re too big for your britches.

3) Small Talk. A simple “How are you today?” can work wonders, or a comment on the crappy weather. 5 seconds of bonding and you have a new friend who WANTS to help you.

4) Tell Them What You Want. Don’t make people read your mind. You know how you want to sound in the soundsystem. No reverb? More treble? Tell them. Most people are relieved to not have to guess how to please you. That being said, don’t be too demanding or act like a know-it-all. Just communicate what you want in a simple and straight forward way.

5) Save the aggressive behavior for when you really need it. Some people will be bad at their jobs or will be jerks, and you will NEED to be able to knuckle down and get their attention (by this I mean asking for a supervisor or just being more aggressive in your direction, etc). if you pull out this behavior too soon, you won’t be taken as seriously. Try to kill them with kindness first, and then proceed from there.

These are just 5 Tips, can you add something?

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2 Responses to 5 Tips for a Happier Work Day

  1. Aaron says:

    Yes! Good tips! I would say that I learned something profoundly helpful in these types of situations. The main issue is that the various parties are there to do a task that requires everyone to work together. The anxiety that promotes the different members of the group to lash out at one another is the sincere concern that their needs and where they are coming from isn’t being aknowledged. it takes empathy to do this technique-The sound people are working hard to make a good show happen for people who are acting annoyed to be there. The sound folks in turn are annoyed that their job for the benefit of the musicians is not appreciated. They start to act out in passive-aggressive ways in response to the passive-aggresive lashings from the annoyed musicians. The cycle continues and it’s no fun for anyone! if the musicians would acknowledge the hard work the sound people are doing to the sound people by being very respectful and thankful, the sound people would be acknowledged and appreciated and in turn not promoted to be snotty. It starts somewhere and very few people want to take responsibility for the cycle continuing for the deep fear that their feelings will not be heard if they see someone elses and call out to it. The truth is that when you speak to the interests of those around you, you will find that they feel heard and respected and will want to be respectful and dilligent in return. Acknowledge the feeling of the others and tear down the Us vs Them dynamic that develops from the two tribes of people having to work together for a common goal. Then of course there’s just rude people on both ends stirring the pot up and causing trouble-Again fearful always that their reality isn’t being observed by others. The refusal to take the first step of responsibility from both parties is what purpetuates the dynamic. Be the first to say ‘thank you’ and ‘what can I do to make the job that I appreciate you doing for me easier?’ and watch the incredible magic of one who feels respected take hold.


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