I’m in agreement with the room. If it’s a select few complaining about you, then I wouldn’t worry about it – you’re not going to please everybody. But if it’s a common complaint about you, then you need to take stock in yourself & change things up. Good luck Deidre, you’ll figure it out!
Hi Deidre. I’m a little confused by your question. Are you saying that the client has approached you with their ‘complaint’ or has mentioned this to someone else? If it’s a clash of ‘personalities’ then there isn’t much that you can do other than refer the client to another trainer. Because of the very personal nature of our work, if the client’s and trainer’s personalities don’t mesh, then the relationship is not going to work long-term.
Ariadne mentioned something in her final paragraph about documentation that I’d like to comment about because it’s a very good idea.
If feedback is really minor (“Your music was too loud today”), I’ll discuss it with the member right after class and come to a resolution.
If the feedback is moderately bad (“Your music is always too loud and I hate that Pitbull song!”) I’ll discuss it with the member right after class, AND I’ll give my coordinator a verbal heads-up on the relevant portion of the feedback. “Hey, boss. I just wanted to let you know Member X told me that my music is always too loud. Can you pop in some time while I’m teaching and see if it’s at a safe and approved volume? This is the first time she’s complained, but since she said “always,” I thought it would be good to check.”
If the feedback is more than moderately bad (“Your music is so loud that my right eardrum is bleeding and I’ll be sending you my medical bills!”), I would document in writing immediately and discuss with management. That particular comment hasn’t happened to me, but the point is, I want my version of the feedback and its context to be documented while it’s fresh.
Any time that I have to have an important discussion with a group exercise member, my coordinator either knows about it beforehand (if it’s something I know ahead of time will need to be addressed) or immediately after.
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.
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!