Clientele Conflicts

images-5.jpegA health club member was upset with me this morning, for using the club’s main studio to train one of my private clients (one of her fellow members). I don’t recall having a prior altercation with the woman; and I was surprised by the venom and distain that she voiced for me. “I’ll report you!” she shrieked.

Years ago I would have been personally offended, worried that I might get in trouble with management; and I would have tried to smooth things over. Not today. With my decades of experience comes blissful indifference. “You’re welcome to talk to my supervisor, the Director of Group Exercise” I shrugged, “She knows that I’m using this space, and in fact pays me to do so.” I wasn’t rude or combative. After all, the dispute was really between the two members — not my problem.

How much time and effort should a staff teacher devote to peace keeping?

Conflict resolution, making everybody happy, is a great gift, and one that I happen to have in abundance. As the Pilates Department Coordinator at that same club, I often found myself in the role of mediator. Back then it was part of my job responsibilities. Not today.

Now, at my OWN studio, Volition Fitness, I’ve an entirely different perspective. My partner and I each have a couple of prima donna clients. When the two are forced to share the space, they’re like hissing cats. We take great pains to keep their appointments at separate hours.

How do you handle disputes among clients?

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Buy-In

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Attendance in my performance choreography class plummeted. I thought that I might recruit the dancers from my other classes. However, when I tell students in my other classes that I’m preparing a dance for an as yet undetermined performance, I see rows of polite smiles, but not more bodies in rehearsal. So I try another route. Instead of trying to drum up enthusiasm for my envisioned project, I ask my prospective participants to offer a stage of their own, “Do any of you have a favorite charity for whom we might perform?”

Perhaps this approach can work with my fellow teachers as well. One of them may provide a venue. That requires that I compromise. My two best collaborators weren’t moved to follow my indoor/outdoor, weekend long dance camp suggestion; but they proposed that we gather together to host another in-studio dance-sampler/open house day. I reluctantly threw-in my support behind the idea, “taking one for the team”, because the offer and the initiative arose from them.

I don’t like admitting that all the best ideas for us aren’t mine! For me, it’s an uncomfortable position. I am accustomed to being the Boss; but I’m not the one doing the hard, physical work of dancing the steps, or enrolling enough participants to justify the expensive of production.

How do you make something while relinquishing control of it?

It’s not enough just to listen. Once I ask for suggestions, I’m obligated to apply the answers.

Any suggestions?