Asserting Oneself Kindly To Band Members
I perform with a rock group fairly regularly. I co-founded the group. Since the beginning, I've been the subject of criticism and pot-shots from various band members. I'm not sure why -- it has happened to me throughout much of my life, possibly due to my appearance. It usually happens around people who are either narcissistic or who have aggressive personalities. I am a quiet, mild-mannered person and I have found people who get a charge out of getting others to do things really pressure me to do things they want -- even when such things are not very important or necessary. One person in the group thinks the original set of pot shots occurred because "I'm an easy target" and even offered to get involved in putting the guy in his place. I declined as I think it's important to fight my own battles. But I have been subject to bullying much of my life, so I see the comments people make as an extension of bullying.
The first time it happened in our group, I confronted the issue head on with the one member who did it after it continued for several months and I was ready just to quit. I threatened to quit if it didn't change and indicated I wasn't tolerating the disrespectful comments about my appearance, the equipment I use, and the 12'X17' practice room I provide for the band. He continued with criticizing my clothing, my thinning hair and other things after I lost 75 pounds -- one of the aspects of my appearance he would mock.
Asserting myself this way did create drama, but I had had enough of the disrespectful behavior. There are times when you have to stand up for yourself. The crisis stopped the disrespectful behavior from one team member who now treats me with the sort of kindness I think the average person would expect from others. It was worth the drama to stand up for myself.
Things went well for about six months. However, it has started again with another band member. The guitar player, who I invited into the band, constantly gets on me about something. I don't want to distract the conversation with details -- other than to say I don't agree with him. He brings it up all the time, and I don't take the suggestion as other members of the band also do what I do, and it doesn't involve him.
I usually make a neutral comment to diffuse the situation and then move on. He continues to pester me. So, at the last gig, I indicated that he's raised this issue four times, that I haven't taken his suggestion, and that he should probably drop the issue. The fact that I haven't taken his suggestion means that I disagree, and he's going to have to accept that we disagree on the issue, which in my mind, is pretty minor.
He responded by going off on a torrent of criticism for the rest of the night. Every time I did anything, he criticized it in a condescending manner. I made a small mistake in the tear-down of the band ( a lighting stand started swaying when I pulled on a cord) and he chastises me and then holds up three fingers and then holds up three fingers and says "How many fingers am I holding up?". I simply ignored him and continued on with the tear-down as he was implying I must be semi-conscious to make a mistake like that. He asked the same disprespectful comment later on the night over something I thought was uncalled for. I simply ignored the comment.
One of my problems is that I'm such a thoughtful person, I don't like to a) come back with humorous shots that put the person in their place
b) tend not to think quickly on my feet anyway (I am an academic and think for a living, so anything I do is well thought out and never spur of the moment)
and c) I don't like to be mean to people.
I need help with some methods of asserting myself around band members who behave inappropriately with condescending comments. My goal is to get them off my back while not descending to a lower level. So far, this guy hasn't raised the stakes to the point I want to quit. And I don't want to threaten that again as it causes more drama than I'm comfortable with. Plus we just got the band off the ground and have some good gigs booked.
I hope the discussion here stays focused on methods, phrases or social methods you use to assert yourself when band members start getting rude and disrespectful.
I think this guy is hurting because I asserted myself with him. He doesn't like it that I stood up to him and he's punishing me. How do you respond in situations like this? Any advice?
With bullies, you need to stand up for yourself the FIRST time they say anything. IMHO you are letting things go on far too long. It is going to be tough reversing the status quo.
Not to pile on, but the behavior you are describing is more timid than thoughtful. You teach people how to treat you; every time you let a comment slide because you are afraid of confrontation, you are teaching the person that it's OK to make those comments. I would recommend counseling to find out why you are having a hard time standing up for yourself.
Its admirable that you want to fight your battles. But if I was a member of this group I would stop it just because I don't like people being disrespectful to other people. And if you're going to criticize my practice room, you'd better have a better one of your own. I've played in some pretty crappy practice rooms through some pretty crappy PAs but they weren't mine so I was just happy they were there.
If it were me I'd have a talk with the rest of the members. I bet he does it to other peple too. My drummer went off on my guitar player once for something really minor. I brought the band together and am the leader. So I apologized to the guitar player and saw that the drummer wasn't going to change and dismissed him from the band.
"Be nice, until it's time to not be nice."
You're going to have to learn that sometimes you have to drop the nice guy crap and defend yourself.
You are there to have fun. If the band is successful, it will also make some money. That qualifies it as a business in my book.
If you aren't having fun, there's no reason you should be in a band. At least not this band.
If the band is a business and you are a cofounder, you should fire the asshat and find someone else who wants to get paid to have fun.
I have a very long fuse, and I can take a hell of a lot, but being disrespectful just for the sake of being a disrespectful jackass? Oh HAIL NO!
1. Pick your community. If you know you're prone to being bullied, don't build a band that includes bullies from the start.
2. Timing. Don't let an aggressive behavior become an established norm. Holding your ground initially takes a lot less force than winning it back after you've surrendered it.
I want to respond to some of the comments above. First, I already involved group members on the first instance of bullying. I let them all know I was quitting unless the situation improved. If I do it again, it will be a problem and I will be forever branded as the drama queen.
From my perspective, it's simply taking a stand after I've had enough, but they see it differently because they do not have to bear the brunt of the abuse. So, anything I do will happen on my own.
Regarding avoiding building a band of bullies. He got along with everyone very well in the beginning. It's only recently he's gotten this way and I'm not sure why.
Anyway, back to the point -- at what point would you have stood up to this person, and what would you have said, done? Be specific. Your approach may not be for everyone, but it will give me an idea of how you stand up for yourself.
You, to him: "So do you like to belittle other people to make yourself feel big, or are you just a regular *******?"
The first hint they get of angry self respect from you in your response, they generally recoil and apologize. "Geez, I was just kidding, sorry bro!..." Self respect scares these types, they only want those who don't fight back. Try it and be amazed.
Don't make it a show though, be real and react with your real self, the one that is tired of being pushed around. It has to be real and you have to stand straight up to them and look them in the eye.
Don't insult them in your response, don't act tough or put on any airs, just ask them to explain what they just said and don't be afraid to let some clenched teeth show. Ask them in direct tones, "What did you mean by that exactly?" 99% of the time they will immediately back off and respect you evermore.
It is truly a pathological person that would test you like that and take it to the next level if you stood up for yourself, in that situation you generally have help from the other 99% who see it as crazy. You wouldn't stay anyway if you felt a real threat.
Always stand up for yourself when someone tries to put you down, nothing bad will happen. Try it, you will see.
You might have to tell the current guys that you don't feel like hanging out anymore. Probably too late for them as was already mentioned, once you show that you can be pushed around, it is hard to close that door.
One other thing I recommend is taking a long and honest look at how you dress and carry yourself too, it is subtle signs like posture and vocal confidence that tip people off as to your real self confidence. These people see something in you that prompts them to react like that, find out what it is and fix it...
This did happen to me. The drummer freaked out and became very aggresive. I simply stated " this is not productive and you can leave now". You said you provided the rehearsal space, well consider that your home. No one should disrespect you without being called on it and especially not in your own home. Fire his ass and move on.
Life's too short to associate with bullies. Tell the band you're out, and leave them to it. If they ask why, tell them - but don't make it a 'them or me' situation - just walk.
Have you tried just making him uncomfortable? Talk softly, stand a little too close and caress him gently in an inappropriate area.
Yeah, ok. Skip that last part. It used to turn my drummer on when ever I kissed him on the mouth..........
I had a guitar player cross the line and be disrespectful to our drummer in a band I formed many years ago. Our drummer was a cross-dresser. He dressed up in women's clothes from time to time not because of any fetish or anything, but just because he liked the way he looked and felt in a blouse and skirt. Hell - different strokes for different folks. He was a heck of a drummer so I was happy to play with him.
Anyhow, I told the guitar player in no uncertain terms that we can disagree and we can discuss things, but there will be no belittling of anyone and that if it happened again he should find another band. The next week it happened again and he was asked to leave and not come back.
Bwardmusic - if you're being disrespected, toss the guy. Guitar players are not difficult to find and you'll enjoy yourself much more when a negative person like that is out of the band.
You asked 'At what point would you have stood up to this person?'
Personally, when he asked 'How many fingers?' I would have replied 'One!' and I would have put 'the bird' as close to his face as I could reach at the time. YMMV
If you're not with a group of people who don't respect you from the beginning then you need to move on and find a different group to play with. Harmless poking fun and ribbing is one thing, and if that's what they're doing, again you either need to understand that's all it is or get out. But that doesn't sound like the case here.
Why didn't you just answer him the first time he made a suggestion to you?
It sounds like you don't have much chance of having a friendship with this person, but you could try to at least have a professional relationship.
There's no need to silently stew about something. If you have a problem, bring it up.
I firmly believe people will treat you in the manner you allow. I know it's easy to say, but do not allow people to treat you poorly!
This does not mean you have to pimp slap everyone who doesn't smile at you, but it does mean you have to stand firm on occasion.
You've been a little vague so "do this and this" is fairly difficult but I would start with:
Stand up straight.
Look people in the eye.
Shake hands firmly.
Speak clearly and audibly.
Do not allow "jabs" to go unanswered.
Sometimes all it takes is quick eye contact, but when someone treats you poorly they have to know it right then and there! The longer you allow people to treat you badly, the harder it is to reverse.
Do the other band members allow this to go on? If I were in the band and you didn't say anything about, then I sure as hell would. Maybe try carrying an axe to practice, or maybe a crowbar. Just lean it against your amp and make sure the asshat see's it, then go about rehearsal as usual.
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