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Are you unintentionally rude or crude to people … too?

Edge Studio

Ours is a people business. Not only do voice actors have to know how to sound friendly at a moment’s notice — in virtually any context, they have to actually be friendly in working with others. Or at least, as the saying goes, be able to fake it convincingly enough that the other person will never know.

Yet, from time to time, we meet and hear from people who say things rudely. We assume it is usually unintentional — that the person just didn’t think about what they said. Probably all of us are like that now and then. In fact, it’s an annoyingly easy habit to fall into. So let’s think a bit more about it now.

For example, we received an email from someone wanting to be removed from our email list. But rather than simply ask for removal, he mentioned that he’d spent most of his life at a mic, and didn’t need to know more. What’s more (he asked), how did we get his name?

It wasn’t a nasty note. It just didn’t show him in his best light, and it did feel like a kind of backhanded put-down. As for him, it doesn’t really make us want to hire him as a voice actor. (Keep in mind, we hire tens of thousands of voice actors.) Further, apparently he doesn’t agree that in VO and the rest of life, “learning never ends.” Maybe he has no interest in getting hired or potentially generating favorable word of mouth. Even so, a much nicer approach would have been to thank us for providing our free information, and respectfully mention that his inbox is overflowing.

As for us, we don’t spam. There are only two ways someone gets on our mailing list. Either a) they signed up for it, or b) they registered at our website to use our free voice-actor resources, where addition to our list is clearly disclosed.

The bottom-line lesson: Before speaking, pause for a beat. And during that moment, ask yourself:

  • Is there an easier way? Am I asking somebody else to do what I could more easily do myself?
  • Have I made the effort to find the answer? (Sometimes 20 seconds of searching clears up a question, avoiding many minutes of email.)
  • Will my words be helpful, or am I just promoting myself?
  • Have I conveyed a negative attitude, or is my statement positive? (Even in a bad situation, or where someone else is wrong, it does little good to rub people’s nose in it. Simply give the solution, or offer to help.)
  • After stating a fact, or even a compliment, do I then add an uncalled-for dig? (Any dig is uncalled for! Even in this sentence:
    “You’re the only one who caught that error … but you missed all the others.”
    Unless you’re grading papers, that second part is unnecessary if the person is already painfully aware.)
  • Am I being “catty” about others? Would I want them to see it in print?
  • Is this joke really funny? Or rather, does someone have to know my personality to know that I’m even joking? And for that matter, does it reflect favorably on my personality?
  • How would others feel about themselves if they read my words …and how would they feel about me?

The email scenario we described above exemplifies only one or two of these situations. But you can probably note other examples yourself, maybe from your own experience.

Why this is important:

You never know what may come of a conversation, or who or what it might lead to.

If you’re rude to the receptionist, the engineer, the person in the elevator on your way up to the studio, anyone … you’re rude to one person too many. He or she may be the person who helps you get your next job. Or lose out on it.

Even if you resign a client (or vice versa), get what you’re owed and let it drop. If you’ve been wronged or harassed and it’s not a matter of record, you might register a complaint with an appropriate professional or civic organization. But only if it would be a service to others. If it was just something as vague as a personality clash, don’t “dish dirt.” Almost everyone knows someone who crossed paths again with someone they met or worked with before. And sometimes that person still holds the power.

In the “Me, Too” atmosphere, words have already become more guarded in workplace situations. And in many cases, past unwanted actions have been exposed. That’s healthy. But it’s not entirely new. It’s always been the case that, just because you can say something, it doesn’t mean you should.

Do you have a comment or suggestion? Please send to [email protected].