It depends on the negative feedback. Sometimes we can’t please everyone and not all personality differences can be resolve. There will always be someone who has something negative to say about us (especially if we are teaching classes/groups). If this is happening frequently then you need to take a step back and see if there is anything you can do to fix the “issues”. If it’s one or two people who gave you a negative feedback then worrying about it too much won’t help you or make that much of a difference. You can always confront those who gave you the negative feedback and see if you can do anything to resolve it. Or you can talk to your manager/fitness director and maybe he/she can give you a helpful advice.
Is the feedback coming directly to you, or are you hearing gossip? Feedback given directly to you is a gift. Gossip, I take with a grain of salt.
What I mean by feedback being a gift is this. That member had two choices. They could simply stop taking your class or they could tell you what they’re having an issue with. Rather than just leave your gym or your class, they chose to let you know how they’re feeling.
Do you have to act on all feedback? Of course not. Sometimes the feedback is something you can’t change (I got a comment in the comment box once that I was too short!). Sometimes the personal characteristic is something you could change, but is part of your teaching personality so you will purposely choose not to change it. For example, I tell jokes in my group-ex classes. The people who attend my classes like it, or they don’t stay. But my classes are well sized and I continue to attract new members, so I keep this persona. If my classes were getting smaller or I weren’t attracting any new people, I’d consider changing, but that’s not happening.
I would also want to know if this person approached you directly or if it is gossip. As a group fitness instructor, you will sometimes have to let things roll off you since you can’t please everyone. However, if you’ve heard something about yourself a few times that you think is true, then perhaps you can work on it a bit.
Good luck to you whatever you decide.
Be 100% yourself
If something is being said about you that you feel you must defend, then do so in a very direct manner if possible.
Tell the person or persons that you would like to clear the air.
For thirty years people have spoken about my personality, both in front and behind my back, as you get older you don’t let this bother you!
How I would respond would be dependent upon several factors:
How many complaints have there been, and do they relate to the same thing?
If you have several people commenting on a similar thing then it becomes helpful to look at yourself to see what it is about how you interact with people that fosters this response. Then you have a choice… to think well, this is who I am, and I will connect with people honestly this way, and the ones who don’t mesh well with me will find someone else to work with. Or, you might say… hmmm… this is a communication style that I can see has a potential not to work well, and it is something I will take some time to rethink.
I like the quote that half of communication is listening. And listening is not just waiting for the other person to be done so I can talk again. Seeing how what we say is taken and thinking ‘how can I best put my message so it is heard’ are great skills.
Also, Who is complaining?
How one might respond would of course differ if it were a student, a client, a coworker, or a superior. When dealing with people whose job it is to review me I have always started by telling them I hope they will let me know if they see ways I can improve. A lot of people hate giving performance reviews because they hate people getting their backs up. Being open to finding ways to improve oneself is a great way to build a good relationship with one’s supervisors. With coworkers it can be tricky. If a coworker complains about you it could be jealousy, or jockying for position, or differences in communication styles, or they could have a concern that is valid. But it will always give weight if there are more than one person noting something.
Documenting things can be helpful. If something ever were to escalate it is useful to have a paper trail…. and it is a reminder that it is important always to maintain professionalism in whatever interactions one has.