Yes, and No! I know, I hate those non-answers too.
When I worked in retail, it was inevitable that I would have to have at least a few tough conversations a day. Maybe, even in an hour.
There was the remorseful purchaser conversation, the got-a-gift-i-do-not-want conversation; there was the used-and-abused-now-i-want-my-money-back conversation. There were many “I’m sorry your credit card is declined” convos and then the worst was when someone was stealing conversations…ugh! That’s just some of the customer
engagements. I also managed a team of 15-20 depending on the time of the year. Managing many personalities and different levels of jobs while engaging with customers could make one go crazy. Particularly with the vast amount of conversations to be had on the regular. To just name a few: tardiness, productivity, team cooperation, stealing customers, customer engagement.
I’m sure I totally forgot some obvious difficult conversations. As I write this, I recall some scary ones. But, let’s stick to the most common ones. Do these sound familiar to you?
How to Handle Difficult Conversations
If you are a teacher you have to deal with the cancellation policy, rates, rate changes, scheduling changes, refund requests (hopefully not), there are also those who have desires for quick fixes and are seeing the “changes” quickly enough.
When you work for yourself, or you work for a studio there are policies that you have to adhere to and ones that the clients should adhere to. For the most part, these systems are easy to follow. If we lived in a perfect Pilates world clients would read our policies and adhere without complaints. If we lived in perfect Pilate studio world teachers would follow studio policies and enjoy teaching their perfect-policy-following-clients. But, we do not live in that Perfect Pilates World. We live in a world where unfortunately even if we have policies, explain them and have clients or teachers sign off on them we still have to discuss them.
So, how do you handle those difficult conversations?
1. Listen to the client or teachers complaint or request: Try to remove what you think they are saying or asking. Wait until they have finished. Often people just need to feel heard. Sometimes, we believe that they are going to say one thing and we gear up for a more challenging conversation then what is happening.
2. Understand: You do not have to apologize for your policies, but you should take the time to understand their perspective. Take the time to hear them and understand their point. Then think about, picture the outcome you would like to have.
3. Ask yourself: are my policies clearly stated? Am I consistent? Having policies but not following them doesn’t exactly set you up for success. Clients and Teachers are not able to read your mind.
4. Follow your Policy: this is where it gets tricky and tough. You don’t want to lose the client or teacher. You don’t want to upset them, and you don’t want it to be uncomfortable. It’s easy to fold. To ignore your policies. But, you have them for a reason. You have them to maintain your business. You have them to preserve your livelihood.
You have policies right?
I know this is all easier written and read than done. Real life creates all these “what if’s” and “but’s” and unique circumstances.
My Dear Teachers and Studio Owners, my goal is to help you do what you got into the Pilates business for more.
You want to teach Pilates. You want a busy schedule or a busy studio. You want to teach your ideal client and when you want to teach. All of this is possible. It really is. If you know how to prevent these tough conversations (yes, that is possible) and how to handle them as they occur you will get back to what you love: Teaching Pilates!