Manners Cost Nothing

I’ve worked with a few people in the past who’ve taken what I view as a very negative approach to the music business (and indeed, the world in general): a sort of ‘take-no-prisoners’, very, ah, self-centric approach to things. Why, a previous acquaintance of mine even used that cliché phrase ‘I’m not really here to make friends.’ Whoa there! Settle down sport. This isn’t an action movie. This is real life, and however you try to dress it up, you’re going to need other people.

It’s not even just a cynical commentary on business, though an ability to network efficiently and know the right people can get you pretty far. Being friendly to other people can simply make life much easier and more pleasant. Doors open up for you, and they’re doors that are made of awesome stuff like bacon and gold. Here are a few ways to spread the love, most of which may not even get you arrested.

  • American comedian Jimmy Durante once said ‘Be nice to people on your way up because you meet them on your way down.’* Be nice to people serving you in coffee shops, supermarkets, bars and, well, pretty much everyone. We get it, you’re a massively ambition-driven go-getter full of so many words like ‘synergy’ and ‘consumer-centric paradigm shifting’ that they’re coming out of your ears. Great. Go you. That doesn’t mean you’re above a ‘please’ or a ‘thank you’ to the people around you. You start with something that basic and maybe you’ll be able to break up the monotony of your day with a pleasant conversation or two.
  • It’s not all about you. If you’re trying to build a network of contacts, you can’t just hand out a business card and wait for the rest to happen of its own accord. Take the freelance musician biz – do some scouting yourself and, if you find a gig or something that you can’t do for whatever reason, pass it on to one of your contacts. Big other people up and you’ll often find that they’ll do the same in return. Example: in case you’d forgotten, Down for the Count’s big live gig in Winslow, On The Town, is coming up soon, and you’d be a fool to miss it. Now, with any luck, they’ll give me a bathtub full of money. Right?
  • Now this one may come out of left field a bit (was that a baseball idiom? What is happening to me?) but being nice to people can actually just make them like you more and make your presence more tolerable. I know, right? That is some mind-blowing stuff right there. But it’s important – if people don’t like you, they’re not going to want to work with you, they’re not going to want to be around you and they certainly won’t go to the extra effort of not spitting in your coffee in the morning. Just a heads up.
  • Just try and smile a bit more. Finding even that difficult? Listen to music you find awesome, read something entertaining, do some sort of menial task that nonetheless revitalises you with that ‘job well done’ feeling. Britain is possibly the worst country in the world for spotting happy-looking commuters en route to whatever toil they’re engaged in today. Seriously – the average Tube train is a veritable picture of despair. So buck the trend and go around looking like you’re actually have a pretty good time – people will generally either think you’re crazy (and really, aren’t we all a bit crazy?) or will be buoyed, however mildly, at the possibility of a non-miserable journey.

It’s important to remember that being nice is not the same as being a doormat. Try and avoid being guilted or emotionally blackmailed into doing something, saying something, or being something you’re not. If someone’s trying to take advantage of your good nature – and there will be those who will try and take advantage, it’s how people are wired – you go ahead and slap that bitch up call them out on it.

Anyway. That’s enough moralising for one evening. For those of you keeping score, the Martinis CD is still in the works, and you definitely should all come to On The Town – it’s going to be fantastic.

* That quote has also been attributed to Wilson Mizner, another American wit, in case you were wondering.

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