Episode 8 – How to Deal with Negative Comments about Our Singing
Updated: Sep 13
I highlight a few different scenarios so if this is something you have to deal with you will probably identify with one of them.
I know I have had that in my life (although it was cloaked as “good advise”).
Some of what I suggest may be different than what you might expect.
Have an open mind and listen up.
I hope this resonates with you.
Thanks for listening!!
The Inner Singer Podcast
Episode 8 – Transcripts
How to Deal with Negative Comments about Our Singing
You are listening to episode number eight.
Welcome to the Inner Singer Podcast, providing tools and techniques to strengthen your inner singer, your beliefs, your confidence, your mindset. And now, your host for the Inner Singer Podcast, Mike Goodrich.
Hi! This is Mike Goodrich and thanks for listening to the Inner Singer Podcast. I received a question the other day and I e-mailed the fellow the answer or an answer. But I also promised that I would cover this in the podcast. It was on my list to do as well. It’s a question I received often and something that I’ve seen throughout my career as a teacher. So it’s a good time to cover it now.
The question is as follows. What do I do when I have unsupportive people around me saying things that aren’t supportive, not being complimentary, maybe even saying mean things? How do I deal with somebody that’s unsupportive, not supportive of my voice, not in my corner, not on my side?
So that’s probably enough said about the question. I think you probably get it. I’m sure that a lot of you have had that experience. I’ve had a little bit of that experience, but not much honestly. But I have seen it many, many times.
I did have a gal years ago. I may have mentioned it in the previous podcasts. She was very nice and just said something that was really stupid unmeaning. I was about 24 years old and I wanted to be an opera singer. I was working and studying with my friend, Ben. We we’re working with a pretty good teacher we thought at the time. Ben was singing pretty well and I was not singing that great, but I was making a lot of noise. I can make a lot of sound back then.
This gal, who I put a lot of credence in, a lot of weight with what she said, heard Ben sing one time. We were there having a lesson together and Ben sang. She looked to me and said, “Ben can do things wrong and still sound great. He really has a beautiful voice. He really can do things wrong and he still sounds beautiful.” And basically, she looked at me and said, “And you though, on the other hand, are going to have to have a big strong dramatic voice because your voice just isn’t pretty.”
Well, I took that to the bank. So to me, here’s somebody that was trying to be supportive and felt she was being supportive who was just saying something dumb. And because she was somebody that I respected for whatever reason, I took that on and believed that that was so and started pushing my voice harder and harder and harder.
So I’ve said this in the previous podcast. I’m just repeating for the sake of this because at least I have had that experience in some regard. But my parents were very supportive, my wife is clearly very supportive and my friends have been supportive as well. But I’ve had a lot of students whose friends, parents, spouses are not supportive. I’ve had certain situations in my life where I can also say I wasn’t necessarily supported the way I think I should be, but it wasn’t about voice.
But let’s move to the voice. Let’s say that somebody says something like, “Oh, you should just keep your day job” or criticizes your voice.
And then in fact, I have a student of mine right now who is doing beautifully. She just started writing songs and her voice is coming along great, much better than she thinks it is. She just played a song for somebody the other day, her first song. And they said the song is pretty good, but the vocals are a little weak or the vocals are a little this or the vocals sound shaky or whatever.
Now, my student actually had to admit that that was true. The vocals do sound shaky because she gets a little nervous when she sings and when she’s recording.
So was that an unkind thing? In this instance, that wasn’t necessarily unkind. Now, I wasn’t there. But if my student was playing this for this person and wanting an honest opinion and they said, “Well, the song is really good, but your vocals sound a little shaky,” that’s a pretty honest opinion based on the fact that the vocals sound shaky. Now if my student is playing it for this person for reasons other than getting objective and honest feedback, then that’s really not the fault of the person giving the feedback.
Now, don’t worry. Stay with me here. We’ll get into somebody who’s actually abusive and not very nice. But in this instance, this person wasn’t being mean. I think that a lot of the students that I’ve had over the years misinterpret this kind of feedback as somebody who is not being supportive.
What they have to do is look at the reason that they played it for the person in the first place. If they really wanted honest feedback and were really open, then that is feedback that they can say, “Wow! I thought the same thing and it’s because I was nervous. So you’re right. Thanks for picking up on the fact that my vocals are shaky. I was hoping nobody would hear, but you’re right, my vocals were shaky. And when I get another round here, I’ll play it for you again when I think I’m over that hump a little bit more.”
In that regard, it really wasn’t the person being mean. It was the person that played the recording perhaps having a wiring and a patterning that’s running them in a way that they thought they needed to get some positive feedback to support them, so that they could continue the momentum of doing what they supposedly love.
Now, if we really loved it, we wouldn’t necessarily need that validation and we wouldn’t really need anything to keep us motivated or to build momentum.
That’s the thing that I have against motivational speaking, motivational talks. Motivation in general only lasts about as long generally as the person who’s motivating you is talking. And then once we’re alone with our own wiring and our patterning and our conditioning with the chatter of the motivation stopping, we are still left to our default patterns.
Inspiration on the other hand, I like because inspiration can help change a wiring and a patterning and a programming and shift us.
So let’s say that this person, this student of mine who was asking this question is really coming from a place of not feeling like she’s worthy of doing this. So what she was looking for really – and this isn’t finding fault. It’s just identifying things, just looking honestly. I’ve done the same thing. What she’s really looking for is validation and a reason to keep going. She’s not looking for honest feedback.
And sometimes we just really have to look at ourselves and say, “Wow! Okay, that’s really true. That hurt. That sucks. I didn’t get the validation I wanted. I got the honest feedback I said wanted. But I really didn’t want honest feedback. I just wanted validation. I didn’t want anybody to actually hear that my voice sounds shaky right now.”
That’s one instance. That’s taking ownership for what motivated and drove the question in the first place and why we played this for this individual in the first place and gave them that much power over our experience and our mood. If we really sincerely wanted honest feedback, we would have been happy with the answer because it was honest and it was feedback.
But if we have an agenda based on our conditioning, our wiring, our programming and that answer doesn’t fit into our agenda, then we feel stupid for asking the question. “I should never have played that song. I knew I wasn’t ready. I should never have played that song for this person. I knew it wasn’t good. I knew the vocals were shaky and I knew I wasn’t ready to play it. I shouldn’t have done it. I’m an idiot for doing it. And they shouldn’t have said anything like that.”
Do you see the trajectory downward spiral of this conversation that we have with ourselves versus if we were honest in the first place with ourselves and thought, “My vocals sound a little shaky. I was a little nervous. It’s my first song. I don’t think I’m in a place where I can really take in criticism or constructive criticism even right now, so I don’t think I’m going to play this song for this person?” Boom! That’s being honest and authentic with ourselves.
Now sadly in our culture, a lot of people feel that if they do this, it’s a cop out. “No, I really should play it for this person because I really should be able to take constructive criticism.” Well, “should be able to take constructive criticism” and “being able to take constructive criticism” are two different things. If you’re not in a position to be able to do that with your singing, then don’t put yourself in that position and don’t feel badly about it.
Just be honest with yourself and say, “I’m really not ready to sing in front of this person or to play this or to sing out at karaoke or to audition for this. I really don’t feel comfortable yet.” It’s okay. It’s really your choice. You’re really allowed to not do something you don’t want to do. It’s totally okay.
Now, if you feel that you’re in a pattern of holding yourself back through perfectionism and people have told you that you are ready, that you sound really good and you really need to get out there, then you might take another look at what’s running you. If you’ve got people that you can trust that are in your corner, that are telling you that you’re ready to do something, but you’re resisting it, that could be all programming. And you need to look at that.
Let’s move into looking at somebody who actually is in a relationship with somebody who is actually not really providing constructive criticism. Let’s just say they’re actually being mean. They’re saying mean things. They’re not supportive and they’re all the way to saying things like, “Wow! You should just keep your day job” or, “Wow! You’re clearly not the singer in the family” or, “Wow! How in the world can you sound like that when dad or mom were such good singers?” or, “Boy, you sure don’t sound like your sister or your brother. They can really sing, but what happened to you?” Let’s just look at that for a second.
If somebody says something mean that’s just really mean and would fall into the category of just unkind in anybody’s book, number one, that’s just their programming and that’s the way they’re dealing with life. So although that may temporarily hurt us, it really is them and their programming.
On the other hand now, let’s say that what they’re saying isn’t really abusive, it’s just maybe slightly tactless, something like you’re singing for somebody and rather than pointing out what was good and then maybe pointing out what might need a little work, they focus right on with all the things that just weren’t working. “Boy, you’re really pitchy there. I don’t know if that’s really the song for you.” Let’s just take something like that.
You sing in karaoke. You get up. You’ve been taking lessons. Your friends know you’re taking lessons. You’re excited to get up there. You sing a song, sit back down. You know it didn’t go that great and rather than saying, “Wow! Good for you for getting up. That was awesome. That’s such a hard song, but you really did a good job. You can really tell those lessons are paying off” and being supportive – I don’t mean lying. I mean actually being supportive like a friend. And then maybe you would say, “Well, I felt like it was a little pitchy though.”And you friend could say, “It was a little pitchy. That’s okay. You’re working on that. You’re probably just a little nervous.” That’s supportive.
But if you sit down and somebody just says, “Wow! You’re all over the place and pitchy on that. I don’t think that’s the song for you.” Then yeah, that hurts. That was tactless. They don’t have a lot of class saying it that way.
I’ll use myself as an example. If then somebody said that to me, I would have to realize that I was pitchy and although it was a really tactless statement, they’re right. So although they didn’t say it in a nice way, there is part of me that knows that it is true. So I guess I better work on that aspect of it and make sure I probably don’t go out to karaoke with this person again for a long time.
Now let’s just say that somebody says something like this. Let’s say you’ve been working on your voice for a long time. You’ve made a definite improvement. This person has been around you for a while. It could be a boyfriend or a wife, a husband, girlfriend, whatever. So this person has been around you. They’ve seen your growth.
But let’s just say that there’s somebody that you do something else as well. Maybe you play guitar or piano. You’re pretty accomplished at that. So you’re really accomplished at guitar, piano and voice isn’t your main thing yet, but you have been working on it and making a lot of progress.
So this person, when you’re in a public setting, may talk about what a great piano player or guitar player you are, but then refer to you as “but not much of a singer.” “Here she is great at guitar and piano/a great dancer, but not much of a singer though,” but you’ve been working your tail off. You’ve really made tremendous amount of progress. What does that too?
Number one again, it shows their conditioning and their programming and their tactlessness and classlessness. Boom, now we have that out of the way because that’s not a nice thing to say. Number two, if that didn’t resonate with something that you believe on some level, it really wouldn’t have that much of an effect on you.
For example, if somebody said to Michael Jordan that he sucked at basketball, he would just laugh. He’d probably think they were kidding even if they were the biggest jerk in the world and meant it because they just didn’t like the team he played for. “Michael Jordan, you suck,” they said that and he’d probably just laugh because he knows he doesn’t suck. He knows no part of him as bad at basketball.
Every once in a while, people will say things to us that on some level, we’ll believe, whether or not they’re true. So that really hits up against a belief system.
Another example with me, I’m thin. I have to work out with weights like crazy to get bigger. And at this point in my life, I don’t feel like doing that. But when I was in high school, I’d be working out. I’d feel like I was getting in pretty good shape.
I got a buddy of mine. I can remember his name, Tony Fanuchi. I doubt Tony is listening. But he was great. He was a big guy, a big football player. And he was really honoring and nice. Every time he would see me, he’d say, “Man, you’ve been working out. You look good. You’re looking like in a good great shape.” That would really pump me up and that would give me encouragement. That was really cool. It’s nice for him to say.
I would always go to this other buddy of mine’s house and the first thing his mom would say, no matter how I look, no matter how hard I was working out, “Why do you look skinny? Are you getting enough to eat?” I was like, “Oh, my God!” I can’t even think now. I got a button with that now if somebody says I look thin. That just pushes my buttons.
And the reason I can talk about that and I’m being totally honest and transparent about it is because that really makes me mad. I would say something else except I like to keep this show really clean for iTunes. So I’m not going to say what that really does inside of me. Suffice to say, it ticks me off.
Now why does it though? It’s because I believe that it’s true. Now if I reframed – and now that I’m thinking about it, I should probably take the time to do this because that’s bugging me for a long time. If I reframed what being thin is like some people that see me and say, “Wow! You look really fit,” even if they’re really being honest and complimentary, the first thing I do is I turn that inside against myself and say inwardly, “Yeah, that’s just mean I’m skinny fit. Sure, I’m skinny.”
That’s where I go even if the person was being honest, even if they were looking at me saying, “Dude, you look fit, man. You look really fit. You’re trim, you’re in great shape. You look like a runner.” And inside, I’m like, “Oh, great, a runner. Nice. Thanks. I don’t run at all.”
So I’m just being really honest with where I go because I know a lot of you have that with your voice. Somebody will say something nice and you’ll manage to hurt yourself with it. Believe me, I totally get it. I know how that is.
But if I didn’t, on some level, believe that I was skinny and that that was a bad thing, then if somebody said to me, “Dude, have you lost weight? You’re kind of thin. Are you getting enough exercise? Are you okay? What’s going on?”, I have always associated thin with, “Okay, thin means sickly. Thin means this. Thin means that.” So anyway, that’s how I frame it.
So if I reframed it as thin means trim, fit, in great shape, youthful and then if somebody said, “Man, you look thin,” I’d say, “Thanks. That’s awesome!” and I’d sincerely believe it. And then if somebody said, “Dude, you look a little too thin,” I would say, “I don’t know, man. I’m feeling good. I don’t know.” And it would roll off of me like water off a duck’s back because it would be framed the right way and it would not hold that charge because I would now be looking at it as a cool thing. “Yeah, I’m thin. I’m glad I’m thin.”
So maybe that’s a little bit of a funny example because if somebody’s voice isn’t quite what they wanted, they may not be glad about that, but it’s the same thing. If somebody says, “Wow! You’re a great guitar player man. You’re not much of a singer though,” and you’ve been working your tail off on your singing, if that bothers you, it just means that on some level, it’s what you believe and it’s almost as if they are holding a mirror up to you and that’s really affecting you. It’s pointing out something to you that you believe.
And yes, it hurts our feelings. It totally hurts our feelings. It makes us mad. And if we’re in a situation where our relationship with somebody is like that all the time, then it may not be the best supportive relationship to be around all the time or certainly maybe we just don’t want to share ourselves with that person in that way or in a singing way.
But I think the important takeaway is if somebody says something that really gets to us, it’s probably hitting and pushing a button because it’s something that on some level we ourselves believe about ourselves. I think it’s pretty cut and dry, as simple as that.
Yes, I know some people can be mean, some people can be tactless, abusive and all these things. But under normal circumstances – for example, the question that I receive and questions that I get are not generally somebody that’s being over the top, screamy and yell-y and abusive and all that. It’s usually just comments like that gal who said to me, “You’re going to have to count on being loud and dramatic because your voice just isn’t pretty,” it’s usually that kind of thing.
Now, why did that affect me for years and years and years the way it affected me? It’s because if I think back on some level, I know and I can feel it and I remember. I really thought the same thing. I did not think that I had a pretty voice. And so, I was already pushing it beyond all proportions to try to be loud and dramatic. She picked up on the energy that I was putting out there, resonated with it and got right back to me and mirrored and said, “Wow! You’re going to have to count on being loud and dramatic because you just don’t have a pretty voice,” which was pretty much probably verbatim of what I was telling myself anyway.
If somebody says, “Wow! You’re great this, great that, not much of a singer. Boy, your singing really needs help,” that could also be a resonance that you’re putting out there, a feeling that you’re putting out there and energy that you’re putting out there that somebody picks up on and mirrors it right back to you so that you can see what you’re thinking and you can see your wiring. That happens to us. That’s what happened to me with that gal.
That’s what happens to me with people that say I’m skinny. “Wow, you look really thin.” Now, I’m going to start looking at that after this podcast talking to myself here, if if somebody says this, it’s like, “Whoa! Thank you for pointing out the wiring that is running me because you are totally right.” I’m not going to say that to them, but inwardly. “You’re totally right. I’m feeling thin and here’s what thin means to me, sickly, unhealthy, not attractive.”
I’m not even that thin. You’ve seen me in videos probably. I probably look normal to you. But in my mind, I’m skinny and I want to be bigger and stronger.
Anyway, if I’m nothing else, I’m transparent in this podcast. So I hope you took something away from this. The only takeaway from this I would say – I don’t think it’s a huge takeaway as a matter of fact – is to start being aware and notice what people say to you about your voice, how it affects you and where it’s coming from and see if it might be mirroring something that you actually believe and see if that is something that you can begin to be aware of, be mindful of.
Don’t beat yourself up over it. Just be aware of it. Was that constructive criticism or was that just mirroring back at me something that I really deep down believe? I wish they wouldn’t have said. They were mean to say it, but they’re picking up on an energy that I’m putting out there and they’re saying what I believe. It’s just like they read my mind.
So just try that on. Look at that. Play with it a little bit. Oh, I got to teach in one minute. So I got to run. I will see you in the next podcast. Thanks for listening. I hope you’re getting something out of this. Please let me know. Have yourselves a fabulous day. I’ll talk to you soon. Bye bye.
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