By Eleanor Bartel
Complaints are a part of life – everyone will have to deal with them at some point, and yoga instructors are no exception. Although the yoga community tends to be relaxed and laid-back, situations will arise where students may have a problem or complaint with your teaching style, the yoga studio, or another issue. It's going to be up to you to handle student complaints in a calm and diplomatic manner. Yoga instructors can benefit from being prepared to deal with these situations ahead of time. Teacher trainings will often help teachers find ways to deal with student complaints, but instructors should also come up with their own personal plans to cope with student complaints and concerns in the studio.
One of the first things to remember is to treat a student complaint with the ultimate privacy. Making an issue public will only add to the stress and resentment that can build in this type of situation. Hopefully, if a student has a complaint about your teaching style or your class, they will approach you privately, after class or during a quiet time at the studio. However, even if they don't, it's your responsibility to direct the conversation to a private location. Tell your student you will be happy to address their concerns at a time when all your attention isn't devoted to teaching. This is not only important to keep their privacy intact, but also to keep their complaints and concerns from damaging your reputation and reaching and affecting the practice of your other students.
Students may approach you in a variety of ways, depending on their confidence levels and personal communication preference. Studios and instructors should be prepared to receive feedback, complaints, and concerns in a variety of way, including in-person, through mail, on the telephone, and even through social media and email. It's important to regularly check all these methods of communication so that you don't inadvertently miss a message from one of your students. This is one of the easiest ways for a student to feel ignored and disheartened. Whether you teach dozens of classes with hundreds of students or just a few individual clients, always make an effort to ensure each of your students feels heard and appreciated by staying connected.
Unfortunately, you will always come across students who are immature, inappropriate, and just plain rude. At some point, every yoga teacher will experience the student who rolls their eyes at pranayama, someone who scoffs at beginning poses and decides to pop up into a headstand before warming up, or the student who rudely leaves in the middle of savasana. Don’t let these people get you down, and don't let them shake your confidence in your teaching routine. You worked hard to get where you are, and most of your students will recognize that and appreciate that in your classes. However, there are always going to be a few bad apples, no matter where you go in life. The important thing is to keep your head held high and to remember why you wanted to become a teacher in the first place. Don't ever let anyone shake your confidence in yourself.
Remember, having to deal with student complaints from time to time doesn't make you a bad teacher. Everyone will have concerns from time to time. Dealing with them in a positive and diplomatic manner is going to make you a stronger teacher in the long run, and it will ensure your students know they can talk to you about any issue they have in the yoga setting. Be prepared for complaints and you will find that you can have a stronger community by setting a great example for your students.
© Copyright 2014 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
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