Thin Slicing Your Class

We all experience this. You run into an old friend unexpectedly and greet them.

Their response includes something that you react to. It may have lasted only a fraction of a second. A raised eyebrow, indifferent smile, strange look, a shift in body language, the choice of a specific word... or the way it was said.

What ever it was, that tiny moment in time effected you in a way that has you thinking; is something wrong? Are you OK? Do you know a secret about me? You've forgotten my name!

Best selling author Malcolm Gladwell describes these micro events as Thin Slicing in his fascinating book; Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking

From the Wikipedia page for Blink

The author describes the main subject of his book as "thin-slicing": our ability to gauge what is really important from a very narrow period of experience. In other words, this is an idea that spontaneous decisions are often as good as–or even better than–carefully planned and considered ones. Gladwell draws on examples from science, advertising, sales, medicine, and popular music to reinforce his ideas. Gladwell also uses many examples of regular people's experiences with "thin-slicing."

Gladwell explains how an expert's ability to "thin slice" can be corrupted by their likes and dislikes, prejudices and stereotypes (even unconscious ones), and how they can be overloaded by too much information. Two particular forms of unconscious bias Gladwell discusses are Implicit Association Tests and psychological priming. Gladwell also tells us about our instinctive ability to mind read, which is how we can get to know what emotions a person is feeling just by looking at his or her face.
We do that by "thin-slicing," using limited information to come to our conclusion. In what Gladwell contends is an age of information overload, he finds that experts often make better decisions with snap judgments than they do with volumes of analysis.

While reading Blink, I was struck by how people (yes they're experts on what they personally like/dislike) could be "Thin Slicing" our classes - and how they feel is based on just one little thing you do:

  • "I loved/hated the music" I love that she plays that new Pitbull song! 
  • "She teaches a great class" Her smile makes me feel welcome/attractive/like I belong...
  • "It was boring" he looks like he's rather be somewhere else.
  • "He's awesome" he's the one Instructor here that remembers my name.

Slicing up your class into little pieces

There are 3600 seconds - in a 60 minute class. With 20 participants (who experience each of those seconds differently) your class could be Thin Sliced ~ 72,000 times or more. Yikes!

Now It would be ridiculous of me to suggest that you need to focus on that level. So how about just a few?

Let's start with this; how do you describe the people in your classes?

  • Students?
  • Members?
  • Riders?
  • Participants?

How about Pushers?

I was trading emails yesterday with Patty Kuhles who owns PUSH Cycle Studio in Prescott, AZ. Patty told me that they call their participants Pushers - which to me is a fantastic title to use as it connects everyone to her studio. I can hear one of their customers talking to a friend; "I'm a Pusher at PUSH Cycle Studio." Kind of endearing, don't you think?  

Let's go TEAM!

Brent Goodermont is an Instructor with Life Time Fitness. I took his class last month and was very impressed with how he referred to us as a TEAM.

  • It's time to really work now TEAM!
  • You need to keep up with the rest of the TEAM!
  • OK TEAM, you've earned this recovery 🙂

Now imagine that you ran into either Patty or Brent at the mall and they introduce you to a friend they're shopping with as...

  • This is [wlm_firstname], one of my Students...
  • This is [wlm_firstname], one of our Members...
  • This is [wlm_firstname], a Rider at our club..
  • This is [wlm_firstname], one of my Participants...
  • This is [wlm_firstname], one of our awesome Pushers...
  • This is [wlm_firstname], who's on our TEAM...

What would your preference be?



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