How To Get Along?

Yesterday someone suggested I write a proposal for a conference presentation on how to get along.  More specifically,  about how people in the professional voice arena can create avenues of goodwill and constructive dialog.  Maybe – be friendlier to each other, and more open to exchanging ideas?

His point was, “its lovely when voice professionals come together and get along, but how do you do that?  What makes that possible?  We need someone to talk about it.”

I don’t know how to write that proposal yet.  I’m not sure how to instruct others on how to “get along” when I have so much to learn about it myself.

Please understand, my chosen profession (call me crazy for choosing it) is fraught with historic tension, fear, anger and strained relationships.  I won’t even claim to understand this psychological history, because I don’t and don’t want to.  I have heard enough stories and experienced enough relationship woes between voice teachers to know something is potentially awry.

Do relationship problems exist more chronically or pervasively in voice than in other professions?  Who cares.  They exist, and there are historic “dividing lines” between voice scientists and voice teachers, classical singers and pop singers, university faculty and community voice teachers.  Many lines have been drawn in many people’s heads, and you can probably think of a few more than I’ve listed here.

For now, I want to share 2 things about learning to get along:
1) its helpful to get clear about your motivations, and
2) its helpful to actually do something.

Gaining Self Awareness

The problem always starts within ourselves.  If we do not get a handle on our belief systems, what we value, and how we act around others we cannot be intentional and truly effective in the world.  (Take this sentence and do with it what you will.)

As they say in addiction recovery, when you point your finger at someone else there are always three fingers pointing back at you.

Self awareness is a life-long-work-in-progress, and we will never get to the bottom of it.  We can only keep pointing our ships in the direction we wish to go, and embrace life one moment at a time.  Then, do it all over again the next day.  Then, again the next day.  Then . . . well, you get the idea.

Do Something

What should we do to “get along”?  May I suggest anything that encourages “getting along”.

A gentle word of encouragement to a student, colleague, or mentor, goes much further than we think.  There are no insignificant acts of kindness in my book, so if you don’t know what else to do try being nice.

That being said, there are endless other things we can each do to encourage goodwill.  The important part is the doing.  For example, I currently host a peace vigil in my neighborhood.  We sit for 30 minutes each week in silence and focus on peace.  Usually only a few people show up, but at least its something.  The goal is not to be popular, the goal is to set an intention and then make an action out of it.  Every time someone shows up each week, it matters.  My intention is peace, and so . . . I sit in peace and invite others to join me.

Maybe someday every voice conference we attend will have a small moment or presentation dedicated to “getting along.”  I’d love to know how other people make “getting along” a reality.

Until then, there are countless mini-actions we can all take on a daily basis toward that goal.  And every single one of us is capable, so let’s get to it.

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