Ill Communication

…an album from Beastie Boys.

“Get It Together” by Beastie Boys:

[audio:Get_It_Together.mp3]

Just because I’m vulgar sometimes, it doesn’t mean I am tactless. It comes within context of the subject.

Many of my friends think I give good criticism. I have never given bad advice, to say the least. Bad advice is sugar coating crap, things that only make you all fuzzy, even if you suck. I’m not that sort of person. I’m the sort of person who will say something is nice if I mean it. I will also say something is awesome and mean it too. If I say it’s okay, then it’s okay.

I would only give my dosage of criticism if someone asks me for it. Most of my friends that ask me have told me they appreciate the bluntness and transparency. I say, “You’re welcome.” If I wasn’t blunt and transparent, then you deserve a better person to go to for advice and opinion.

However, I have met with one obstacle that I recently came across. I won’t say his/her name, but since s/he has picked up his/her new hobby, s/he has become more and more apparent about his/her own goals, style, technique and follow ups. As time went on, s/he became more and more in despair on how s/he wanted to tackle this. S/he has asked for my view on things every now and then, but I have to confess that s/he is one of the most difficult people to talk to. I actually have to watch what I say. I don’t fear if s/he would blow up or not. Instead, what I ‘fear’ is that my words would go to waste.

I’ve been giving advice and opinion for about ten years now. The tone of my criticism goes within context. If Brandon asks me what I think about his guitar playing, I will tell him that it sounds great for the level he is at, with the amount of time he has spent on it. If he asks me how it compares to other people I know, I will tell him that he has some ways to go.

Some people in my industry had asked me what I think of their work and if they are not doing a project with me, then I ask, “You want my personal opinion or do you want a general opinion?” They always give me this, “Your opinion of course! Is it really bad?”

My most common positive answer: “It’s not bad. However, I suggest you do A, B and C and maybe you can add X, Y and Z. What do you think?”

Sometimes, they would ask me why and I would tell them my opinion, but I would add, “Ultimately, it’s your work and your perception. If it works for you, then it works for you.”

However, if they’re working with/for me, I will tell them my personal opinion. If it hurts their feelings and they try to bite back with their little fangs, it simply means we’re not compatible working together.

In my 11 years in the industry, I’ve worked with roughly a dozen different photographers, about a dozen different designers, a handful of film and video people, movie directors, producers, technical designers, illustrators, a myriad of artists and models. There is bound to be criticism and disagreements. Heck, Benny and I have had disagreements in the past and we still work together after five years.

I remember my first mock-up of the Fleet Street Outdoor rate card package, the president’s first line read: “Was he drunk?!?”

It wasn’t that bad, but I went back and re-designed the entire thing. 16 hours later, he responded, “Beautiful.”

It’s called taking criticism within context and tone.

Do I get hurt from hearing criticism? Not these days. Back in my early years, I would get embarrassed and sometimes, even irritated. However, after working in the industry for so long, on top of the hundreds of projects I have done, dealing with hundreds of people over the last decade, it’s all just a part of the job.

“Oh you don’t like this? What do you want changed? The red? Well, right now, it’s reflective of the setting sun, the red yolk in the horizon. Ah I see, you want more orange, like a melted painting? Sure sure, why not?”

Then do it.

It all comes down with communication.

^ My mom and dad back in 1998/1999.

The number one thing I say to EVERYONE who has family, intimate, friendship and work-related issues is: OPEN COMMUNICATION.

If everyone around the world would just openly communicate their thoughts and feelings, the world would be a much better place. Then again, there are still the few who simply cannot take criticism of any kind.

Indeed, my friend and I were built differently. S/he grew up as the only child with a dad who has the same traveling passion s/he does, a passion in tennis trying to beat people down in tournaments and being good at what s/he did, and fulfilling the results his/her parents set out for him/her. I grew up through depression, major heart breaking failure, huge financial loss, mass betrayal, bullying where I stood up to the bullies and basically learned to appreciate all the hardships I went through coinciding that of my parents on top of what my parents envisioned me to be.

My dad tries to talk with me, but his problem is that today he would be nice and tomorrow, he would be flustered with something he disagrees with. On the other hand, my mom and I talk a lot. We talk at least twice a week, for hours. This wasn’t so in my teenage years. In my teenage years, I was almost considered a bully towards my mom. In my instances, I talked back so much and said so many hurtful things, that it made my mom cry.

As a grown up, thinking back on those days, really breaks my heart. Of course, I still get into the occasional argument with my mom these days, but nothing that lasts over two hours. I always let myself cool down, then go to my mom and apologize for flaring up my temper or my mom would try to play a joke with me afterwards.

I will always remember what my parents did for me, growing up versus the minuscule criticism they make once every now and then. Which by the way, they no longer say them. Well, how can they? I’m the only son who financially, emotionally and effort-fully support them. I know my mom was hurting all those years trying to bring me up and all these years, working her ass off, working over time, getting needles shoved into her thumbs and bleeding every where. I’ve seen her hands. They are rugged, scarred and her finger nails are all flat. Her hands are far from being as youthful as I remembered them when I used to live at Knightsbridge.

The least I could do is be there for them, even if they may not necessarily understand me. I just hope, as one of my friend’s closest friends, s/he will read this and take everything within context. It’s not always just about him/her. You’re not the only one hurting and more often than not, our parents just want us to be a part of how they thought us to be. It’s not their fault for being mom and dad. As sons and daughters, sometimes, we just need to take their words with a spoonful of sugar and respond, “Sure mom/dad” or “Okay mom/dad”.

If you let a few words get you down, how do you expect to live through life, have friends, have colleagues, have clients, have girlfriends/boyfriends, etc, etc, etc?

^ When I was about almost 3 years old with my mom, right after my brother was born and then when I was about a year old with my dad.

The world is a lot meaner. Trust me, I know from experiencing a myriad of things in various situations over my 30+ years here. Our parents should be the last people to push away, especially if at least one of them is trying his/her best to reconnect with you.

Without my mom, today, I would be in the shits, emotionally, mentally and physically. The fact I have a job, a good boss, stable-enough income, a nice home, a great mom, an okay dad, some of the greatest friends in the entire universe and the freedom to go hiking and biking is proof that it is important to stay connected with my loved ones.

In short: Grudges are meaningless. Despair is better shared with those who constantly offer their support. Words should always be taken within context and tone. We should always consider the entire foundation, rather than focus on the little crack on the doorknob.

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