Completely unrelated to anything exercise, I've watched an uncomfortable situation unravel in our community which, honestly, could have just been settled by some honest communication (and maybe a bash across the head with some rolled up newspapers....honestly!)
The instructor plays a pivotal role in smoothing out disagreements - some want LOUD music, others can't tolerate it. . . Can you claim a bike by setting up you towel on it, then be late to class without losing "your bike...?" You know, age-old conflict resolutions. Mostly they boil down to either sticking by the gym policy or instructor's call.
What happens when the instructor IS the issue? What if it is YOU?
ouch. This could be uncomfortable. . . but what recourse do the clients have if they don't like you...and how do you handle that initial blow?
I figure, by posting this before it ever happens to you, that you might be able to take a broad perspective on something before you're ensnared in a tangled web of hurt feelings and mistrust.
First of all, count yourself lucky if you hear it first hand from the person who has the complaint. This is GREAT. Horrible, yes, but much much better than wondering how long your name has been coming up in a negative context before you were made aware of it. If someone brings a complaint to you ABOUT you, take a deep breath and thank them for bringing their grievance out into the open. Sucks, I know...but that will put you in the right frame of mind to not get defensive. Defensive is a bad piece of real estate.
Secondly, do not feel obliged to respond right away. They pitched it out...doesn't mean you have to react on their time frame. If you can and you have trespassed....do what you need to do. "I'm sorry, Terry, this is the third time you've started class late and I'm sick of it! I'm going to tell the management!" "I know, I'm striving to change the circumstances that prevent me from starting the class on time, Shiela...I know it is irritating, thank you for telling me how you feel..." In that instance you can respond right away, but if you were just clobbered out of the blue, you might do well to take the issue "under advisement..." For example: "It sucks that your class is back to back with the yoga class, so I either have to miss the end of your class or the start of yoga, but I want to do both..." In that instance you have several choices.
1. shrug your shoulders and say... "sucks, don't it?"
2. get on board, 'I know right? Our management is so out of touch, they drive me crazy too!"
3. just absorb it and get back to it. "I understand that is frustrating to you. . . have you left a suggestion in the comment box?" or "I can look into it..."
That's sort of a bigger picture. How about this one:
"You are the ONLY instructor still using CD's (not mP3) and I hate it when you change music around. Can't you just be like all the other instructors and invest in a decent iPod?"
deep breath. It's true. It is a true problem - your client doesn't like something you do (I don't like that either) but on your salary, maybe you haven't budgeted for an iPod, or it broke and you have to wait to get it repaired... You could launch into the cruddy pay you get and it certainly doesn't cover taking in customer rudeness. Or you could just say "Thank you for letting me know how you feel..." ...and then go stew about it.
My personal favorite is if you're faced with someone who just is generally unhappy about stuff and it really can't be fixed - because they like techno and you like country western spinning, or whatever, then just offer that you appreciate their candidness and "I know you know we have 20 classes per week on the schedule, I'm sure you'll find a perfect match - I'll miss having you in my class..." Frankly, it isn't really your loss if you schluff off a complainer to another time slot, is it?
That's all sort of tongue in cheek, but why this all comes about is because one of the focuses of the non resolution of the conflict today said that "it is always about the ball and never about the player." She was telling me that it got nasty, dirty and personal, when the focus should have stayed on the issue at hand. Then she said she was okay because she, luckily, grew up with a sister who played "dirty..." so she was well equipped to handle the personal attack. what a funny thing to be grateful for.
Hopefully this is a post that is totally irrelevant to you and that you live and work in an environment free from the emotion clutter of confrontation. However, if you take some time to practice how to resolve issues before they get inflamed, you'll handle them with grace and the personal distance needed to inform good, sound conflict resolution. Have any personal experiences to share or lessons learned from conflict in your workplace?
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