Many of us have endured teachers and conductors (maybe even family and friends) who used subtle or overt shaming to motivate or change. If you feel brave enough to share, I’m gathering examples that perhaps were meant to be harmless, but instead damaged your joy.
Sometimes constructive criticism can hurt your ego but open you up to new understanding, humility and growth. We all need a bit (or a lot!) of that, yes?
Shaming, however, does not seek to understand. Shaming damages self esteem and connection to joy. An extremely talented young musician recently described her lessons and rehearsals as “soul crushing”. Shaming did not expand her into new understanding, but instead darkened her venue of joy into an experience of pain that pushed her to quit.
Similarly, 35 years ago my orchestra conductor said with a dismissive sneer after I played a solo in front of my friends: “Next time, play it in tune.” The way he said those 6 words ripped a huge tear in my belief that music was a place for connection and joy. Perhaps he sought to toughen me up for the “real world”, unaware that I’d be now living in a time where the need for connection is greater than it is for perfection.
Perhaps his own training discouraged curiosity about how to best motivate and guide others towards improvement. I have great compassion for him, as most of us have been taught that shaming is an acceptable tool of the trade.
It’s time to model new ways of teaching and leading. There are so many alternatives to encourage improvement.
What shaming words and phrases are still being used by teachers and leaders today, especially in fields of vulnerable sharing such as musical performance?
I want to hear your story.