Learn some strategies when you find yourself in an awkward – or dangerous – situation –says Petra Tool
We artists attract people.
We attract those who find us attractive and fascinating, who admire our work, who want to help us in our career.
This can be great.
However, there are those who don’t have our best interests at heart, who may want to push us in a direction we don’t want to go – who don’t take our “no” seriously.
Let’s look at strategies artists use when they are in difficult situations with fans.
Many performers encounter the lonely fan who feels a powerful romantic attraction but presents a risky situation.
Jazz singer Lils Mackintosh says, “I have met a lot of men, trying to get close to me after a gig. Men can be hunters you know. They start their game by offering you a drink. But I don’t play that game anymore.”
“When I am at work, I now radiate: ‘don’t touch me.’ I use my sharp tongue. If I’m soft and friendly, I get them all over me!”
“Yes, I have hurt innocent men. But I would rather be wrong ten times and apologize for it later, than let one jerk get too close to me.”
It’s not foolproof.
This “cold shoulder” approach has sometimes led men to believe Lils playing hard to get, and make them more eager. It has even evoked aggression.
It shows us that there is no “one” right way to behave. And it certainly isn’t your fault when someone misreads your attitude.
Feel free to be yourself, but keep the contact brief and casual with people you don’t know.
One day you may get that email or phone call with offensive content, or someone sending you an intimate picture.
It can be a childish prank, a flirtation or a serious threat.
Do you feel like ignoring it, making a joke of it, sending a serious email back, or contacting the police?
Though I love using humor as a tool to take the sting out of the situation, it can often backfire.
I heard the story of a musician who received a picture of a bare-chested woman with whipped cream all over her.
He responded: “ I don’t like whipped cream, I prefer chocolate.”
Imagine what her next picture looked like…
A fan may be begging for your attention. As long as you are keeping communication lines open, they might believe they are bonding with you.
Often it’s best to shut down inappropriate communication as early as possible, in order to prevent matters from escalating.
If you ever get to the point you need help from the police, make sure you haven’t destroyed any evidence.
Never throw away a disturbing email or picture.
Sometimes the most difficult kind of harassers to unmask are the manipulators.
They proceed so subtly that you often don’t notice they are gently trying to pull your strings, professionally or privately…
…until you are in way too deep to get out without a struggle.
I know women who’ve been boycotted for years by a newspaper because they turned down the sexual advances of a powerful leading journalist.
Think of a man saying to a female artist, “I really love your work… I can help you…you said you’re hungry, let’s brainstorm over it at dinner. We both have to eat, don’t we?”
This can be so charming, helpful and persuasive.
However, buttering up, using your words against you and trying to anticipate your objections are all early warning signs of manipulation.
Did you notice his question isn’t even a question? If you feel pressured, you probably are pressured.
Change his plan (which he won’t like) and make it a meeting in a work environment with other people present.
Or turn his offer down kindly with an excuse.
Be the one in control and you won’t be vulnerable to manipulators.
Many problems can be prevented by early detection. You have to learn to instantly read intentions.
Sometimes your mind can get in the way. It may be full of other people’s opinions and fears, telling you that you may be exaggerating or misunderstating things.
Just listen to your own gut and experience.
Are your thoughts about potential dangers wheat or chaff? Trust your instincts and act firmly.
You will make a mistake from time to time but, like singing, the more you practice, the better you’ll get.
Petra Tool is a Dutch artist and artist’s coach. A gifted portrait artist, she explores the personalities of gifted performers, interviewing them about their talent, passions, the problems they face, their insecurities and secrets of their success. You can find more information on her website www.petratool.nl .
More articles by Petra Tool: http://www.voicecouncil.com/?s=Petra+Tool
Painting: Diva – 70×95 cm – watercolour – Petra Tool