Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can actually still really hurt my feelings!
Anne and Gabby share some personal accounts of past clients who came across a bit harsh. If you haven’t come across this yet, you most likely will. So our #BossBabes go over some very important ways to handle yourself next time it happens that could help you keep your client relationships intact.
Quick Concepts from Today’s Episode:
Be prepared to play the game. Your client likely doesn’t know what they’re looking for.
Don’t be reactionary. Take time to think and process before you respond.
Try to persuade your clients to schedule a directed session
It’s hard, but try not to take the insensitive comments personally.
Referenced in this Episode
Direct links to things we brought up ++
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Our podcast is recorded entirely using ipDTL
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Anne: Welcome, Everybody, to the VO BOSS Podcast. I’m your host, Anne Ganguzza, along with my beautiful, lovely co-host, Gabby Nistico. Hey, Gabby! Gabby: Aw, thanks, Anne. Anne: Gabby, today we’re gonna talk about insensitive clients. And how to handle them. Gabby: HAHA! Anne: Haha, and how to handle them. I’m sure all of us have had something to do with insensitive clients. Gabby: Hold on. Give me some room. I got plenty to say here. Anne: As a matter of fact, you told me a story, the other day, Gabby,– Gabby: Oh my gosh. Anne:–about a client who was a little bit insensitive. Why don’t you tell us about it. Gabby: Sure Anne: And what you did to handle it. Gabby: So, really funny. So, I’ve had a client, now, that I’ve worked with for quite a few years. They come back to me every holiday season for a lot stuff. This is a BIG client too. This is, like, not, you know, small time stuff. This is major brand name, house hold name, company. And they came back to me for a series of ads, and everything was going great, I think there were nine spots total in the order, and on the ninth ad they said, “Um. Gee. You know, Gabby, this, um…” And this–the funny part about this is–So, this is, like, third person, in that the words came directly from the client through email to the agency. And the agency actually forwarded this to me. I don’t know what they were thinking, ’cause, man, did they supply no buffer. Anne: An email? Gabby: Yeah. So, they supplied no buffer. No okay, let’s kinda cushion this a little. No, no, no, no, no. So, they threw me onto the stake, and sent me this email. And it said, “Gabby. We really like what you’re doing with all the other spots. In fact, we like them so much that we wanna let you know that we’re going to be expanding our usage of you and adding even more commercials, and moving forward in the new year, we think we wanna start using you year-round.” So, I’m like, “Hey, yay, that’s great!” Then, they say this, “In this particular spot, we’d really love it if you could sound less ‘wheezy.'” Yep! You heard that. Both: ‘Wheezy.’ Anne: As in, George and Weezy? Gabby: And…No! No. Anne: No? Gabby: No! As in, [dramatically wheezes], wheezing. Anne: Oh, my, gosh. Gabby: And, I– Anne: Movin’ on up. Gabby: Yeah. So, I am utterly and completely flabbergasted. I’m just so gobsmacked, I don’t even know what to do with this email and I just sort of let it sit there, and I stared at it, and I’m like…what? Because initially, of course, like all your defenses go up. Right? You’re like, because that’s such a personal thing. I mean, it’s such a bizarre… Anne: Well, it’s a — yes, it’s your voice. It’s your delivery, and so… Gabby: Comment. Yes, exactly. they’re going right for the…you know, Gabby: Yeah! I mean, it’s literally like let’s just go an attack they way you make your living. Anne: Right for the throat! Gabby: Yeah, I took a minute to kind of separate myself from it. And initially I thought, they can’t possibly mean this the way they’re wording it. Because I’m like, there aren’t even breaths in the ad. Right, there’s no breaths! There’s literally no breaths in the ad. Anne: What does wheezy sound like? That’s what I want to know! What does wheezy sound like? Gabby: I don’t know! That was it! I have no idea! I’m still at a total loss for what they meant by that. So, I sort of composed myself and I said to the agency, Ok, well, let’s go ahead and give this another go. I said, It’s definitely a little bit concerning. In the meantime, I spent the entire night and next day obsessing about this piece of information. What does this mean? What is this? How do I fix this? Is this something that’s happening and I don’t know this is happening? Do my agents know about this? Do people know that there’s something really, really wrong with my voice and no one is telling me? Why is no one telling me? Why isn’t Anne telling me? I have friends in this industry! Somebody tell me what’s going on! I mean, it was… just this, you know, hysterical brain hijacking of awful thoughts! Anne: I’m going to tell you, I have a story that’s kind of similar. They didn’t actually say anything directly about my voice but I was having a directed session in the booth. And, you know, you do take one. They’re like, so I really want it conversational and natural. Like you’re talking to your best friend. So, I did the take and then silence. For a few too long seconds and I was like, Oh my God, Oh my God! Immediately it went right to my head. What’s the matter. Okay, can we try maybe I’m going to need you to pick up the pace a little bit and what about a little more smile? And so, literally, I did a second take and after that it was like, yeah, I need more energy. So, ultimately they took me from being conversational and natural to pretty much an infomercial kind of sell sound. And it was so funny because at the beginning they’re like, no, you’re talking to your best friend. But they ended up directing, and each time I did a take I was more paranoid than the last. Because I was like, Oh my God, was that not conversational? I do this all the time! Was that not conversational? Maybe no one’s telling me? You’re right. Exactly. How come nobody….Oh my God, that’s it! I suck. Gabby: Yeah! Anne: I suck! And then you’re in the middle of like frantic, frantic in your head and you’re trying to not let that effect your performance which is almost impossible because when all those thoughts are racing through your head and then you have to look at the copy and then be even more conversational or whatever they’re directing you to do. You’ve already got self-doubt that is, like, pounding at you. Gabby: Uh huh. And it’s so funny because on one hand, we have to acknowledge the truth of this, which is what we have been told many times as voice actors, but I don’t think a lot of folks do a good enough job of clarifying what the hell it actually means. When we say a client doesn’t really know what they want, this is that example of them not knowing what they want, so they say all kinds of weird, stupid things and give us really strange direction and then… Anne: Strange direction, Gabby. It sounds like a new pilot, new series. Gabby: Yeah. It is. It really is. They just don’t know. So I still, I have no clue what “wheezy” means to them. None. I don’t think I ever will. I don’t think I will ever have clarification on what the hell that was. But what I do know, is that, for all my obsessing… I mean I remember sitting down to dinner with my husband that night and I’m like stabbing a piece of meat going “Wheezy? I will show you wheezy!” [Anne laughing] Anne: I’ll give you wheezy! Gabby: I’m telling you! When I say obsessed, it would not leave! Well, a couple hours after we ate that night, I check my email as I usually do in the evening and I get an email from one of my other agents telling me that I booked a massive job something even larger than this first one and it’s something that’s actually airing right now, which is kinda cool because I sort of want to talk about it on the podcast because it’s so related to our brand. Which I love! I’m the holiday 2017 holiday, whatever voice for Office Depot/Office Max Anne: Whoo hoo! Gabby: So that was the email that I got telling me that I booked the campaign and they’re really excited to work with you, and all this great stuff and I literally remember looking up at my husband and going, “Hey, so, I booked Office Depot/Office Max” and he goes, “That’s great!” and I said, “Yeah, not bad for WHEEZY!” Anne: That’s right! Not bad for wheezy! You are movin’ on up! Gabby: Not bad for wheezy! Anne: You are movin’ on up VO BOSS girl, Gabby! Good for you! Gabby: And that was exactly where we sort of ended up spinning the whole thing. We kind of turned it into a joke. He goes, yeah, Maybe they went, “wheezy like Weezy Jefferson”, you know, movin’ on up. And I’m like, “Yeah, I can work with that.” So, what’s the point? Don’t let it get to you? Anne: Well, I’m going to say, yeah. I love how you were talking about how at dinner it affected you hours later. The same thing happened to me and I know that I’m quite sure that it’s happened to a lot of our listeners too. When they’ve gotten that confusing direction or that insensitive comment about their take, what do you do? Number one, I think all of us, it’s human nature to just obsess almost at least for me and you and our stories. I literally, it affected me, not just that session. And then when I was done with the session I continued to say to myself, oh my God, they said okay and they took that was a good take, but did they really mean it? Because it took them a long time before they said okay. So what does that really mean and then, literally for hours afterwards, maybe for another day, I obsessed about, “That’s it, I suck, I just…I’m not going to get…I’m never going to work again.” That kinda thing. And I just… it affected my whole business because I allowed it to inject itself into my psyche. So, guys, know that this stuff happens to all of us, right? And I think it’s human nature for us to take it to heart because it’s such a close, personal attack of what it is that we do and what makes us professionals. Gabby: How could we not take it to heart? It’s the core of this thing that we do that we have poured ourselves into. Yeah, we can say all day everyday, oh, it’s just business, don’t take it personal it’s just business. Yes, that’s true, but then there’s a moment, and I don’t know any voice actor…yeah, it crosses a line. Anne: Like a criticism of your craft. Gabby: Right. And it’s not constructive criticism either. I remember years ago working with a voice actress, very talented, very skilled bilingual voice actress. Born and raised in this country so her Spanish was secondary is the wrong word, she simply was not a native Spanish speaker to a country of origin. But she still spoke beautiful Spanish, beautiful English. Well, she was in a session one time and was working with a male voice actor and he had the nerve to look at her at one point and give her his business card and say, “Yeah, you know, if you every want to work with somebody who, you know, is an authentic speaker, let me know. ” And you go, what in the world?! So, things like this happen, but usually I think we’re able to sort of brush them off when it’s external. We’re able to brush it off when it’s from somewhere else. Like sometimes maybe you have a slight regionalism from where you’re from. I know I do. And Anne, you do. We’re northeasterners, we can’t change that. So, you know, every once in a while you may get somebody who goes, “Oh, where are you from, the northeast? I can tell by your accent? They don’t know that that’s going to make us cringe. Anne: That was so neutral. That was very neutral. What do you mean? And what about… Gabby: We get defensive! Anne: …when people just don’t say anything. Sometimes I’ll obsess over that. It’s kind of like the job was there and done and I got paid and all of a sudden it’s like I hear nothing. And then I wonder, I wonder if it was okay or if maybe they went out and got a different talent afterwards. Once in a while that will hit me too. Because I’ve heard so little feedback or no feedback. Gabby: Yeah. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been in a session, I do a take, “Standby”. Anne:and then they’re talking or you sit and wait. Gabby: And you sit in silence and the only thing you can hear, because I don’t know about you, but this happens to me all the time, the only thing I can hear is my own blood running through my temples from the headphones. So it’s just, boom boom, boom boom, boom boom, boom boom. And I can actually hear it getting faster the more paranoid I become because they’re taking so long! Anne: And especially if you’re remote directed in your booth. Or God forbid you’re actually in a studio and you see them on the other side of the glass conferring and talking and in reality they might just be talking about lunch or their daughter. Gabby: Yeah, I don’t even look. I like start playing with lint on my clothes or something to just distract myself. But then all of a sudden they come back and go, “Alright, we’re good. Thank you. You’re released.” And i’m like, “I’m a human being!” and that’s it. And it’s just like, the line goes dead. Anne: You are the talent, Gabby. Sometimes that is… I’ve actually been called “the talent” and that to me is like, God, I’m Anne. Hi. Nice. To. Meet. You? Thank You? Or their rushing out and I’m like with my hand outstretched, and they’re out the door. Okay, nice to meet you! Bye! It’s like that high five kinda thing where you kind got your hand up in there air and they’ve already disappeared. Gabby: I remember the very first time that I was in a directed session and they said, “You’re released. You can go.” And I panicked and I don’t know why, but in my new-ness in the industry. I thought it meant they were literally cutting me loose and so I called my agent in a panic and I’m like, “Oh my God, they released me from the job. They hate me! They hate me! They released me!” And they’re like, “No. hey just meant you’re done. You can go. Bye.” And there I am holding the phone like “Oh. So, they’re still going to pay me?” “Yes! It’s fine!” Anne: I think Gabby, the takeaway of today is, number one. I think a lot of times when clients seem to be insensitive, it’s because perhaps they don’t really know what they’re looking for. Maybe they don’t know what direction. And they don’t know how to, maybe they haven’t directed people before and they don’t necessarily know how to clarify what it is that they’re looking for. And so, really, you have to just try to play a game. I have to play a game with myself so that it doesn’t inject itself into my psyche. Because when that happens, you never know how it can then tumble and gain momentum and really affect your performance, because that’s what you want it not to do. You want your head to be clear. Gabby: And that’s really takeaway number two. Which is do not be reactionary. Do not immediately react. If I had reacted instantly to that word, wheezy, bad, bad things would have ensued. I could have potentially pissed off the client, pissed off the agency, pissed off my agent. It could have had a whole trickle down of negative actions and reactions simply because I failed to see that A, they didn’t mean anything by it and B, they just didn’t know any other way to express their thoughts. Anne: Right. They didn’t know the right word. Gabby: Right, but if I was reactionary and flew off the handle about that comment, I could lose the whole account. There it is. Bye-bye! Anne: Oh, absolutely. I think that one thing that i’ve done, I always try to do, immediately. I try to prevent those types of things from happening because I know that it’s going to play with my psyche and I’m going to get all freaked out. So what I try to do, is I always invite the person to do a live direction with me. A live session with me. Because a lot of times, if they’re trying to explain what they’re looking for in an email, or with a link to a YouTube, you know, it’s hard. I want to give them exactly what they’re looking for and I am able to be giving multiple takes as well. So that if I’m in a live directed session, but I certainly don’t want to have to do a job and then, “Oh, no that’s not what we meant, and then have to re-do it and then you have to get into the other component of that which is, “Okay, so i’ve done the job, I should be paid for the job and now you want me to do it again?” So, that introduces all that, charges, are there charges that are going to incur? So I always just try to nip it in the bud, invite them to come and direct me live in a session and give them multiple takes. Gabby: Yeah, I love that. Whenever you can push a client or not push but massage them in that direction, it’s a great thing to do. And I think lastly it’s just guys, know that you are certainly not alone in this. If you have experienced this, if you have ever had a client leave you feeling like maybe I should just pack it in, no, you’re not alone. Anne: Exactly. I’d love to hear your story, actually. I think you guys should email us, call, send us an email or give us a ring and we’d love to have you on the show. Maybe you can recount your experiences with us. Because it’s happened to everyone, guys. It’s okay! You’re not alone. Gabby: We have this fabulous thing called ipDTL. Our wonderful sponsor. We can go ahead and 3-way and link up with you and hear your stories live. Anne: We can actually have more than three, Gabby. Gabby: Isn’t it limitless? It’s kind of crazy. Anne: ipDTL is amazing. It really is. I think in my connection I can have up to eight that I can direct myself. Which is so cool. And we all sound like we’re in the same studio. That’s what’s so amazing. That’s why I love, love, love ipDTL. And you can find out more at ipDTL.com. And for more on the podcast and all things VO BOSS and me and Anne, you’ve got a plethora of options. Please like us, friend us, and give us your support! Facebook, Instagram Twitter, YouTube and of course, the VoBoss.com website. Anne: Yes, you can find all of our links, all of our social media on voboss.com and you can check out our VO BOSS University classes and products which are building up as we speak, so we’ve got a lot of things to offer you guys so be sure to take a look at that. And don’t forget to send us your questions! Send us your experiences! How was a client insensitive to you? We’d love to hear! Gabby: Thanks guys, have a great week! Anne: Thanks guys! Kick butt!
VO: Join us next week for another edition of VO BOSS with your host, Anne Ganguzza and Gabby Nistico. All rights reserved. Anne Ganguzza Voice Talent in association with Three Moon Media. Redistribution with permission. Coast to coast connectivity via ipDTL.