Growing up in hardcore is a double-edged sword: you learn how to stand up for yourself, speak up, and tell the people standing in your way to fuck off. This is great when it fuels you to believe in yourself and take chances that others are too timid to take, but it’s not so great when it makes you think that your opinion is way more important than it actually is.
The place where this most often rears its head for creatives is in getting feedback on your work during the creative process– when your boss, the client, your team members, etc says something you think is dumb and you lose your cool, open your big mouth, and say something you shouldn’t. It’s kinda like in that movie “Alien” where the little alien worm thing bursts out of their chests, only instead of an alien worm, it’s a middle finger.
And I totally get it — this was a HUGE challenge for me at the beginning of my career, and to be honest it oftentimes still is.
As creatives, we will always be emotionally invested in our work… you HAVE to be. So when someone makes a dumb comment or starts to turn your great idea into mediocre crap, it’s fucking enraging! It’s totally natural to take it as a personal attack and want to stab them in the face, especially if you grew up listening to bands with songs called “Smash Your Enemies,” “Spit My Rage” and “Strike You Down.”
But you have GOT to learn how to get this under control, because trust me — it will RUIN your career! Nobody wants to work with someone who’s a hotheaded dickface that gets pissed off all the time. And if people don’t want to work with you… that’s game over.
I’ve known countless super smart, talented people whose careers stalled out because they couldn’t get their temper under control, and I’m pretty sure my own career has been hampered quite bit because of my temper.
If any of this sounds like you, then here’s my advice for how to handle it when you start getting that “I want to punch this motherfucker” feeling:
- SHUT THE FUCK UP. Do not say ANYTHING while you are angry! This will never, ever end well for you.
- Physically remove yourself from the situation. Like, literally leave the room – say you have to use the bathroom or something. It will give you a few minutes to let the rage subside.
- Take a few deep breaths. Imagine you’re breathing out angry, red air and breathing in calm, cool blue air. I know it might sound dumb, but it works– do this for 30 seconds and you’ll feel way less pissed off.
- Lastly, try to express your opinions in the most mild way possible. Instead of saying “That’s a terrible idea, it’ll never work,” (which will make people hate you) say “I’m not 100% sure it will work, but let’s try it and see what happens.” Trust me, your point will get across loud and clear 🙂
For better or worse, in this business your people skills matter at least as much as your creative skills – so my advice is to put a conscious effort into improving them every day, just like you do with your craft. You’ll thank me for it later when you see how much better you are at handling this shit than your peers who didn’t! 🙂
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