Are You Communicating Well?

Just because you write songs doesn’t mean you are always communicating well with your co-writers.  If fact, all of us discover daily, what we think we said is not exactly what the other person heard.

Although it’s the nature of the beast among us humans, we can learn to strengthen our abilities to communicate clearly, especially with our co-writers and bandmates.  If we are successful in learning this, it can save untold amounts of confusion, hurt feelings and other not so pleasant feelings.

The result of this is called:


confusication = confusion + communication

Don’t Assume

If there is something to be discussed, do NOT assume that the other person will always understand where you are coming from, especially if you do not know them well. What means one thing to us, can have an entirely different meaning to another person. Especially if there is any ambiguity about the subject matter.

Think of it sort of like ‘you say toe-may-to and I say ta-matt-o’. Same thing, but different interpretation of how it should be said.  If someone is not understanding you , or worse, feeling put out a bit about what you said, you need to clarify your message.

Clarify You Are On the Same Page about the Topic

One way to avoid confusication when co writing is to re-state your objective or task at hand with your co-writer.

“So, just to be clear, we are writing about _____  from the perspective of ________ right?

or “I think we should approach this verse from this standpoint, what do you think?”

If you and your co-writer work together alot, your communication process will evolve over time and if you have a great chemistry, may get to the point where you instinctively know what the other person is thinking or what they will likely say.  But, if you are writing with someone for the first time, or your co-writing is fairly new, it’s important to establish clear understanding when you are discussing anything.’

Tips for Clear Communication

Be Specific
Think about what you want your co-writer or other person to understand from your point of view. Language it in a way that leaves no room for doubt about what you are talking about.

“I think the chorus should have this rhyme structure.”

Involve the Other Person

If you’re having a difference of opinion about something, try to understand where the other person is coming from and why they believe in their opinion.  Practice active listening rather than thinking about why you are right.  If you have the slightest confusion about what the other person said or is saying, ask for clarification.

“Just to be sure I understand what your’re saying, you think……… right?”

Do You Make Sense?

Are you communicating in an external voice, or just running through things in your head? Sometimes we take our internal dialogue and language it to someone by mistake.  Before you comment or speak, make sure you’re going to say something in the way you would want to hear it.

Wrong way:  “I think that is the stupidest idea I’ve ever heard – are you a moron?”

Right way:  “I’m having trouble understanding your point of view about that. Could you be a bit more specific about the reasons you think this is a good idea?”

Hold Yourself Accountable

We are responsible for our own words. Therefore, thinking before we speak is always advisable.  Creative people have LOTS of ideas, all the time. However, when working with a co-writer or group of co-writers, we need to be self aware, and cognizant of how what we say comes across to others.  In the heat of the moment, we can all say things that do not represent our best selves. If this happens, be quick to make note of the fact that your misspoke or said something that could be miscontrued or taken personally.

“Hey guys, I didn’t mean that to come across as an attack. I just feel very strongly about this because,……..” 

Ask for Clarification When In Doubt
If you feel confused or unsure about what the other person, or persons are talking about, or are unsure about the tone it is being presented, make sure to ask the speaker for clarification about what they said,

“Suzi, are you taling about _______or __________.? I just want to clarify your meaning so I understand where you are coming from.”

Ask Them
You can always ask your co-writer or partners if they understand what you’re trying to say or communicate, if the conversation still seems to be confusing.

“Tell me what you think I meant  please, I just want to make sure I am being clear and not being in my head.  Thanks!” 

Be Respectful 

It goes without saying that in order to be respected, you must respect others.  Even if you disagree with them, you should always maintain the respect and courtesy you want extended to yourself.  We are human, we have strong opinions, sometimes we say things that come across in a way we didn’t intend. That being said, if we strive to continually improve our communication skills and practice respective engagement and interactions, we will win the day, strengthen our relationships and possibly write something great!