No matter what you do for a living, you'll eventually stumble across someone you have to work with that's just incredibly difficult. Music is no exception – from melodramatic keyboardists to overly confrontational promoters, you'll deal with these folks on the regular. But don't fret – there's a few things you can do to make it easier. Here are five steps to handling difficult music professionals.
Stay the Course
Whatever it is that you're doing – working in the studio, setting up for a show, or working on a promotions campaign – keep doing what you're doing and don't let the person throw you off your game. Prioritize the work above everything else, even if you have to work closely with them – it will not only mean the work gets done more quickly, but it may encourage them to relax a bit if they see that you're competent and determined.
Be Kind but Firm
This is a fine line to walk, but listening receptively to the person's ideas – while still maintaining a firm stance on whatever guidelines you've been set for the task at hand – can help. At the very least, it will tell them that you're a decent person who's not a pushover. Be civil and professional, but make it clear that you won't be mowed down by them. It may help them to adjust their attitude.
Know Your Role
Since dealing with difficult people is an inevitability in the music industry, knowing your role inside and out is absolutely critical. Some professionals look for signs of weakness, and will unfairly criticize or even bully you if they think that you don't know what you're doing. Become as expert as you can at what you do – it will give them a lot less room to browbeat you.
Build a Good Rep
Developing a good reputation is another must in the music industry. The two biggest factors? Being easy to work with – and being expert at what you do. If you develop a reputation for being professional and competent, over time that reputation will precede you – and may encourage a much better attitude on the part of those who haven't worked with you previously.
This should be a last resort but if the person simply proves to be too much for you to handle, whether personally or professionally, disengage wherever you can. Keep your communication and interaction minimal – enough to get the job done, but not enough to make you feel like you're going to have a years-long migraine. If possible, see if another person can be assigned to work with the individual in question.
Most of the people you work with will be just as dedicated and happy to be doing what they're doing as you are. But for when those negative nonces saunter down the lane, as they are wont to do, these steps will help you get the job done – not to mention help you keep your head together until it's done.