gym bag
What if you could get inside the minds of your students? It”™s common to hear compliments from your regulars about what you are doing well, but what about the students who come once and decide never to return? So far, we have explored the importance of preparation, and welcoming every student. This week, we'll consider the need for tact and professionalism, even when the complaint is valid.

Imagine that you are unpacking your gym bag after class. There is a note sitting on top. It says…

Dear Instructor,

Let me start by saying that I am a workout junkie. I have tried every kind of exercise and class there is: running, yoga, Cross Fit, Personal Training, kickboxing to just name a few. And, you know, of all the types of workouts I've tried, indoor cycling here at this club is my all-time favorite. I love it here. The team is fantastic and I enjoy every instructor and every class. Everyone is unique and provides something a little bit different, so I get a well-rounded routine by coming throughout the week. Not many places can offer that.

But I have to ask you a question -- do you like it here? I can tell that you are passionate about teaching and cycling. I appreciate that you put a lot of effort into your classes and I'm impressed that you seem quite knowledgeable about riding. But it seems that you can't stand this place. The things I have heard you say about the other instructors and the management here are really unnerving. Sometimes you complain about little stuff that would probably annoy me too, like the fan or the mic being busted. That's not so awful. But it is awful when you speak badly of the other teachers. In fact, I really do not like it when you go off on my favorite instructor. She has so much energy and excitement! I really look forward to her classes and I think your comments are out of line. I understand what you said about jumps and I agree that she does them kind of fast. But don't you think you'd be better off telling her privately what you think is wrong instead of trashing her to your students? That is so unprofessional! And it makes you look really petty to complain that the other instructors teach stuff you don't like. If you are so educated, why don't you just tell them instead of making us feel like jerks for liking their classes? Why would they even be teaching here if they were as terrible as you say they are? Have you even taken one of their classes to know whether this stuff is as bad as you think?

You really are a good instructor and I would hate to see you lose your support by focusing on the wrong stuff. I hope you'll take this as it was meant - to help you see that no one is going to listen to you as long as you are bad-mouthing others, especially if they happen to like the other instructor better. It doesn't matter how smart you are if you are being self-righteous when you do it.


Diplomatic Debbie

Have you ever been one of the characters in this scenario? Is it ever okay to speak negatively about your employer or another instructor to your students? If you were the director at this club and learned of this situation, would you have anything to say to the instructor or the student?

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