This vacation has been spent with many great friends who are in our business and much wine has been consumed during passionate conversation about the state of our business, what we are seeing changing, what isn't, and on and on!
I have been thinking about these two words within our business, and how we come across as the singer/actor in this business.
Paul Russell's blog and website has some great insight from the casting side of things as well. He calls it as he sees it - and says it!
So this got me thinking about the differences between assertive and aggressive as an artist pursuing a career in this business. Remember, being an artist and pursuing a career are NOT the same thing.
There IS a difference between assertiveness and aggressive behavior! One does not assume the other!
Assertiveness is an ability to take stock of self, to recognize one's worth and move forward in finding ways of promoting one's self and one's business.
Assertiveness is NOT a negative. It is an astuteness of your ability - your talent and your ability to do the job. Timidity is not charming. Timidity comes across in an audition or meeting as being unsure. Being unsure reads "not ready yet", so no matter how talented you seem, casting, directors, agents, producers et al will immediately dismiss and move on.
You are an ACTOR aren't you? Even if you feel timid, or insecure, YOU MUST NOT BEHAVE THAT WAY!!! Nobody can show what you have better than YOU, so claim it, act it, be it - and do not apologize for it. Again, being an artist, and being an artist pursuing a career are NOT the same thing. When we as artists are pursuing a career, during the BUSINESS, it is not time to 2nd guess, question, contemplate.
It is time to be assertive and GET THAT JOB. It is time to introduce yourself to each audition, email enquiry, submission, direct meeting, with clarity, focus and confidence. It is delivering what you have to offer with confidence, energy, passion and a focus that does not apologize for what you offer as a performer!
How do you behave assertively? You make a DECISION! Behavior is a decision - and a follow-through of that decision. Just like acting, it creates an ACTION. If the action is strong, it will not be apologetic.
The difference is aggression. This is the negative side of assertive. This is the behavior that is over-bearing, annoying, and does not recognize anything but the energy being pumped out. Aggressive performers do not HEAR or SEE how they are responded to. They are like bulls in china shops. If you are driven into aggressive promotion, you are unwilling and unaware of what goes on around you and will miss the response to your behavior. Behavior always gets response!!! It is that response that will help us determine how we change the behavior, if we are paying attention!!! Aggressive behavior often doesn't allow for this and will only take a performer so far - and often end in a highly negative position! Soon, your aggressive behavior will be completely ignored and you will be wondering what happened and why you cannot be seen or taken seriously.
Are you over-bearing? Are you so aggressive you aren't listening anymore??? Or are you timid and always asking for permission? These are the extremes for sure, but somewhere in the middle there is an assertive spirit that must surface to continue to explore the possibilities if you the artist want to pursue a career. It will not come to you. IT WILL NOT COME TO YOU. If you want it, you MUST GO GET IT.
Do not ask if it is okay. It IS okay!! PRESENT YOURSELF, PRESENT WHAT YOU DO! Be aware, be present, be focused, be confident. "Be" with purpose; "be" with intention. When you motivate your BEHAVIOR with intention, it will clarify HOW you do your pursuit! Then timidity or insecurity has no reason to be there.
Assertiveness means the SELF leads and meets each person where they are with grace and confidence. Aggressiveness means the BEHAVIOR leads and doesn't care how it is met.
One finds a place, and the other will be put in its place!!
Find your assertiveness - it is your birthright if you are to pursue a career in this business!!!
Susan Eichhorn Young
Susan Eichhorn Young covers all things voice—strong and sophisticated singing and speaking.
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