Pay Attention to the Tension

We’ve all been there. It’s in the final hours of tech week. It’s late. Everyone is tired. The coffee machine along with everyone’s words have long stopped working.

And the tension slowly but steadily begins to rise.

These people with whom you have spent the last number of weeks developing friendships and inside jokes all start to become short with each other. You are no longer saying what you mean, nor are you meaning what you say.  It’s bad.  And we’ve all been there.

First thing’s first. Remember that you do love and appreciate all these people, and they feel the same about you. So whenever possible, choose to make the choice that everyone gets a giant dose of grace and forgiveness. You know they didn’t mean it. So, let’s forget it and move on.

To be clear: This is not sweeping it under the rug. This is simply old fashioned forgiveness and understanding.

But what to do when the offense is too big, or the offender is too persistent?

A new choice must be made. The choice to bring all offense to light. To recognize it and put it all out there.

Was it you who did the offending? Put it out there. Own it. And apologize for it. As soon as possible.

(Read that last line again.)

I know it’s easier said than done. But as we all know, if it was easy everyone would be doing it. And we’re not in the business of easy anyway.

Was it they who did the offending? Start with forgiveness, but get it out there. And then own your part that caused the harsh action.

For some of you, this is easy. You love the confrontation and you love the tension. You are great arguers, so bring it on!

For the rest of us, our tendency is avoidance.  Fear of making things worse with a difficult conversation.  Fear of offending someone even more for calling them out on their offense. Or fear of awkwardness from admitting offense. We sweep it under the rug, we don’t talk about it, and we let the tension fester.

Tension and artistry do not mix. Not this kind of tension, at least. Tension must be brought to light. Lean hard into the tension and recognize it for what it is.

Tension is only strong in darkness. But once it’s out in the light you’ll find that tension loses all its power.


Some Extra Thoughts…

Try making this agreement with your cast and crew before the high stress arrives.

If you make a commitment with yourself and with your team to bring all offense to light and you know that eventually you are going to have to apologize for the harsh action you are about to take…it certainly will help you reevaluate your choice.

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