silence to violence

I have been a tech person in the local church for the majority of my life.  Can I really be that old?  Yes, that is the answer.

When I look back into the dim early years of existence, I remember a time when I used to get pretty frustrated with people.  I mean really frustrated.  Having the music director add an instrument at the last minute would send me over the edge.  Getting a call late on Saturday night to bring some large thing the next morning would usually send me into a fit.  People repurposing equipment without telling me would also get me all riled up.

If I think about it, much of the things that drove me crazy were people ignoring my boundaries.  I felt like no one had any respect for my life or what I needed to do my job well.

From the outside looking in, what most people saw was me going from “silence to violence”, a phrase I read in Joseph Grenny’s book Influencers.  To the people I was working with, they knew me as a pretty quiet person, until I would suddenly explode.

From my perspective, it seemed like I had communicated my needs to people, and that they should have known that they were violating our agreements.  I need all the band information on Friday so that we can come up with a plan for how we are going to make it all fit on Sunday morning.  Or because we are portable, I need to know what you need to be thrown on the trailer by Saturday morning so that the volunteer driver can make sure it makes it to church.

In reality, I wasn’t communicating.  At least, not on a regular basis.  I made assumptions that other, non-technical people understood my world as much as I did.  It turned out that they just didn’t care.  And not in a bad way.  The reality is that they have a ton of other things to worry about just making their own thing happen.

How can I communicate on a regular basis what I need to get the job done well without seeming like a nag?

The creative people we work with will always have ideas that outpace the realities of the equipment we have and the time available.  And they should have these ideas.  It is our job as technical artists to foster these ideas and help shape them into what can be accomplished.

Instead of hearing an idea and getting silently angry because there is no way to do that with the resources we have (and you should know this), we need to communicate often about what is possible.

The idea-generating people aren’t out to get you, they are just trying to generate ideas.  Have you ever tried to come up with the idea out of thin air?  It is not easy.  Let’s not make it more difficult by passive-aggressively wishing people would consider the technical feasibility of their ideas.  That’s your job.

For the partnership of the creative and technical arts to work, we need lots of communication.  Don’t hold it all in and then explode.  Work things out along the way, with grace for each other.

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