My approach to office inter-personal relationships – well, it’s exactly the same as my approach performing with an audience. A singer-songwriter friend once told me, how he always aims to “just be with people” on stage. What a lovely way to describe an artist’s bond to a live audience. You’re not performing ‘to’ but instead ’with’ them. And it got me thinking, what a way to approach business relationships as an intern.
It’s not what you sing, it’s how you sing it. In music, dynamic means everything. Dynamic can denote genre, mood, and level of professional sophistication. It can clarify emotion, or leave you guessing- but it always does one thing: add interest. Writing a song, I sometimes stick to the ‘three chords and the truth’ – because A) I’m not a very good guitar player, and B) the most captivating singer-songwriters know a secret. The secret is to do your work on your craft before you get to the stage. That way you are not concerned only with complex harmony and independent melody lines, but creating a moment. As you perform, in this moment, the audience is kept safe, because you can now focus on being with them. Manipulating the dynamic appropriately nurtures the emotional connection with your audience. and creates a place suspension only you can break. Approached the right way, even a simple song, or a simple job position, can be incredibly moving.
As an intern, creating this moment can be trickier than mastering the art of whispering over a three chord song. But they do call it performance in business for a reason. Here are some relationship-based things I think about during the day at my internship.
1. How to Act (This goes way past oral communication)
Do I keep my head down when I walk past someone in the hallway?
Do I smile?
Do I make eye-contact?
2. How to Speak
Do I ask questions?
Do I speak up if I notice an error?
Do I offer solutions?
What is the appropriate tone for an e-mail?
These are a few of unanswered questions – and I am learning so much that effective business communication is varying, and often bizarre in the music industry. New forms of media communcation allow for a host of new ways to communicate, and it gets confusing. As an intern, I’ve been doing my homework by keeping my ears open to the way others communicate. I work on my business craft by making sure I’m on top of the latest music news, upcoming trends, buzz-bands, and most of all, staying true to my dynamic.
As an intern, my commitment is to the company, and I honor that contract not just by doing what is asked of me. It’s much more than that. My behavioral and ethical business identity encompasses all I’ve learned as a human, as a woman, as a student, as an intern, etc. It’s a complicated task, but imporant to analyze. So I’ve chosen to find what works best, and apply it fast. And a musician, I know that all an audience need is to know that you’re there if they need you, you’re holding them in that moment, but you’ve got them- and it’s all gonna be okay.
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Sara Rachele, former vocalist and keyboardist for The Love Willows (Decca), has been studying at Berklee since mid 2009. A songwriting and music business major, Sara currently interns at The Orchard, an independent music and video distributor in NYC . She is currently living in the East Village with her dog Hank Williams.