Dear Willow: How Do I Handle Client Feedback?

One of the more challenging things about being a fitness instructor or coach can be receiving feedback from your clients. Willow outlines how to ask for and handle feedback.

Dear Willow,

I wonder what you do with hearing feedback from clients or students. I am a fitness instructor and part of my job is to ask for feedback from students. Sometimes when I hear feedback it leaves me feeling sensitive and I know I shouldn’t take it personally but sometimes this is more difficult to do. Do you have suggestions?


Caring Instructor

Dear Caring Instructor,

It is easy to see your care and attentiveness to your students and clients will keep them coming back to you. The short and simple answer is you cannot please everyone so, take a breath and relax. As a person who also trains and mentors yoga teachers, part of my role is to give them “feedforward” and “input” to help them learn and grow, and become more skillful instructors. This process also gets them practice on filtering the input without taking it personally. I am happy to share with you a few coaching strategies I think will assist your growth with teaching.

Coaching Strategy 1: Peak State

Prepare yourself emotionally and mentally – get in a positive state of mind to receive input. Start by selecting five strengths you are confident about in your teachings. Repeat them to yourself and breathe deep.

Coaching Strategy 2: 5 Positives to 1 Minus Ratio

For every one minus or negative you receive, find five positives. This is a basic rule of thumb to follow to neutralize the minus.

Coaching Strategy 3: Sandwich Formula When Asking Input

  1. Always start with positive input first. A few ideas are: “What do you like most about the class?” or “What did you learn that you are going to grow from?”
  2. Ask “What would you like to see improved?” or “What can we do better?” as examples.
  3. Let them leave feeling positive about their input to you and you feeling positive about receiving their input. You might ask them for a few specific examples on what they liked about the class you were teaching or how you were teaching it.

This question comes up in many forms of work. Think of the customer satisfaction surveys many companies perform to optimize client retention and learn more about the needs of the people who purchase products and support the company.

It can be a beautiful dance between remaining sensitive and open to students and remaining objective about their feedback or input on their experience. Maintain perspective of the feedback you are receiving. Ultimately, pick and choose what you think will help you become a better instructor or better person. Apply it forward.



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