posted by Rory Duffy
Have you ever let yourself get talked into something? Have you ever let yourself be led astray by false prophets? Have you ever found yourself drawn into a situation, only to realise that the person didn't actually mean what they meant, and that you took things too literally? Did you misinterpret something that they mentioned? Did you misread vital signals in their facial expressions, articulation, tone of voice and/or body language? Don't worry and take heed: you are not the only one!
"People come in all sorts of shapes and forms. There are some, like me, who always strive to fulfil their promises. Others, however, like to talk the talk, but never walk the walk. People who ‘talk’ will (with their words) seductively lure you into a fresh garden of forbidden fruit and ensconce you in otherworldly desires, before rudely expelling you outwards and throughwidth via the snares of the Venus flytrap.
Now, let's take this one step further. Isn't it much more frustrating when you try to verify what someone said, only for them to falsify it? And because it's not written down, it's impossible to evidence such a breach of promise or commitment? And besides, the whole drama was done and dusted so quickly - quicker than you could process, or react to 'appropriately' - in an unwieldy explosion of noise; a messy, confusing torrent of emotional angst. As such, you ended up short-changing yourself, either by misrepresenting your moral standpoint in the heat of the moment, betraying your inclinations for the sake of appeasing the other person, or, worse, unintentionally upsetting or offending the other person - all because you were under social pressure to respond instantaneously? You've lost. They've won. They've yanked the words unceremoniously out of your mouth. They've robbed you of your dignity and credibility in one foul swoop. How could you let them win you over so easily? Again! We have an analogy which we love to use in this situation:
It feels like the rug being pulled from underneath our feet.
It's that throbbing, biting feeling in the back of your throat, that sickly churning sensation in your stomach that signals trouble. You're seeing red. Yet again, you've let yourself be taken for a fool, lured in by their attractive prospects, cheated, raped by words and manipulated by conversational discourse. Now you're back at 'square one' because you can't evidence or make sense of what happened (or didn't happen - because, in your hazy recollection, it's all a disjointed blur). You've entered into something you never wanted/meant to enter into. Familiar?
And you end up beating yourself up for letting that person in so easily. "No never again," you vouch; until your next business intermediary lures you to the phone, tempting you with their seductive yet empty utterances, tricking you into betraying yourself again through compromise and social appeasement, all for the ultimate "good" of being "personal" (another term for "taking advantage"). And you kid yourself into thinking that this form of negotiation is more honourable, or you're being 'controlling' because you're not letting others 'control' you. Get real!
Was there a mutual misunderstanding about what was said such that it's one person's word against another? How is it even possible to properly analyse and account for what went wrong, if it's mere words that vanish into thin air without a trace?
The Email Approach...
We've seen it occur on many occasions in Red & Black Music. Verbal communication confuses things: negotiations become coloured, distorted and tinted by the chemistry, emotions and feelings between the two people negotiating. Sure, it's lovely to talk, if it's regarding personal matters. Believe us, we love to talk and have a cosy chit chat conversation as much as the next person. Yay. But in practice, it's a lack of vision and foresight and it's inevitably going to lead to problems further down the line involving a misunderstanding regarding what was mentioned/discussed in a previous conversation. Boo.
Literal communications, on the other hand, clarify things in a much more transparent, traceable and archivable way. When it's regarding professional matters, business negotiations between two people who may or may not necessarily know each other: talk is an obstacle and an obstruction to decisive action. It prevents decisions being made that wouldn't be made otherwise. And the worst thing is: you can't prove it. After studying over 500 business men and women, journalist and author Napoleon Hill found that they shared a single quality: decisiveness.
"Keep your eyes and ears wide open — and your mouth closed — if you wish to acquire the habit of prompt decisions. Those who talk too much do little else. If you talk more than you listen, you not only deprive yourself of many opportunities to accumulate useful knowledge, but you also disclose your plans and purposes to people who will take great delight in defeating you, because they envy you." Napoleon Hill, 1937
Have a read of this article. By ensuring negotiations are made in a written form (via email), you're respectfully allowing yourself and the other person that necessary breathing space to properly read, internalise and address whatever the content of the message is, and prepare your/their response accordingly. If they can't engage with it, then it's the 'acid test' that shows up the other person for who they are, in their true colours.
We've been told that the amount of emails was cause for confusion. In addition, people are using a wide variety of methods of contact (including social media platforms) which is inefficient and can lead to confusions over agreements. Emails are the preferred method of communication with Red & Black Music for ease of traceability, archiving and auditing.
We've seen it occur in the past that verbal agreements would be misinterpreted in part or entirely, and it is more difficult to ensure that they are adequately accounted for in our books for the purposes of evaluation and future development.
An example is a recent business negotiation. We've been handling all negotiations ourselves. A colleague fancies himself as our 'middle-man' and is confusing things somewhat by purporting to be 'on our side' meanwhile relaying everything we say verbally to him back to the promoters, which we're not sure is conducive. We may want to be careful what we tell him for the time being. He may 'transform' what we tell him into slightly different nuances to the promoters. Keeping conversations on email allows everyone to track back properly.
We needed a get-out clause to justify not phoning. It needed to articulate any/all of the below elements and cover/resolve a wide range of situations/topics (we appreciated not all of the below elements would apply to every scenario!).
How not to bomb your offer
“Hi recruiter, I hope your day is treating you well!
Red & Black Music was set up in 2012 to stop musicians cancelling.
Red & Black Music has been running a journal since 2012 for the purposes of evaluation and future development. It documents internal struggles faced by musicians and music leaders in an honest and transparent way - and evidences breaches of communication and accountability both on the artist side and the client side, in an open access format.
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Rory comes from a musical background having trained at the RNCM and worked with musicians since 2009.
Claire comes from a publishing background, having worked as a digital editor in the books industry, and proofreader in the marketing industry in London.
Jo comes from a hospitality & tourism background, having managed staff at prestigious venues throughout UK, Italy and China since 2009.
A category naming and shaming unreliable musicians to watch out for.
A category reporting unscrupulous venues and traders.
A category exploring the issues faced working via agents and promoters.
Event Diary #1
Event Diary #2
Freedom of Speech
Less Talk More Action
Productions vs. Bands
Unresolved Queries 1
Unresolved Queries 2
What happened to Diaspora Collective?