There seems to be a trend amongst some voiceover coaches towards ‘tough love’ and ‘brutal honesty’. Lately I’ve heard many accounts of students’ encounters with coaches which have left them feeling incapable, unconfident and sometimes downright discouraged. I have even experienced this myself recently as I was reaching out for career guidance. What is going on here? Have we forgotten why we’re coaching people in the first place? We are here to help, guide, inspire and nurture those who aspire to be where we are and where we have been. Coaching is a privilege and one that I have come to respect deeply.
What can be gained (apart from inflated coaching fees) from making someone feel worthless and dubious of their own talents and abilities? Being a student is a very vulnerable undertaking and coaches have a duty to treat them with loving care as they are learning. Aspiring voice actors (or pros wishing to progress) come to us, confide their deepest dreams and wishes and ask for our expertise, wisdom and advice. They then open themselves up to sit at our feet and soak up as much knowledge and information as they possibly can. Is it kind (or professionally responsible, for that matter) to carelessly insult their efforts thus far or, even worse, dash their hopes of ever reaching their goals? There is something so insensitive and barbaric about striking out with so called ‘brutal honesty’ whilst a person’s artistic underbelly is exposed. If it really is the opinion of the teacher that the student isn’t yet where they need to be, then there are ways to deliver that message in a positive and encouraging way, without causing undo suffering or self-doubt.
Kindness always, please. Especially within the fragile and tender teacher/student relationship.