After I ran my very first 4 week bootcamp I sent out a survey to get feedback for improvement.
Now 90% of the comments and feedback was positive. A few people complained about running (yes, we’ve all had those) and some complained about the fitness level variation (something I improved after that). In one section 95% of the participants said they would recommend us to a friend.
Here are some of the things that people wrote:
I think Kyle does an awesome job.
Kyle was really good, made it fun without being fanatical
Every session is completely different. You never know what to expect! 🙂 Everyone works at there own pace. Friendly & fun. Kyle keeps everyone moving & motivated. I’m sure it’s difficult for him considering we are all so different in our fitness levels. Me, being one of the ‘slower’ ones, never felt left out or that i was holding back the others who were fitter!
I did get a chance to learn new exercises and correct the way I was already doing some workouts. I really enjoyed the team exercises and working with other people. I also thought Kyle was great and helpful.
The people – so friendly and Kyle was a great group trainer. Even though training required three early mornings per week, I didn’t dread going when I got up and that had a lot to do with the style of training (motivating and supportive) and the mix of activities.
Kyle was a great trainer. He took it seriously but also knew how to have a laugh, and not make everyone intimidated by the experience. I would definitely recomend him as a trainer to anyone interested. It was also a good group of people, and being in beautiful Fairfield Park was nice (more enjoyable than being stuck indoors). There was also a really good mix of activities, so the time went fairly quickly – you never got bored of doing the one thing repeatedly like in a gym class.
I really liked that most of the exercise was weight bearing as I felt this was better for my body. Kyle is very motivational. The location is lovely and the people were great.
What wonderful feedback!
No, I’m not sharing these comments to big note myself.
I’m sharing these because until I went back through the feedback to research this post I had completely forgotten about all the lovely things people wrote.
Actually the comment below is the only one I remember. 4 and a half years later, this one comment.
I appreciated Kyle’s trying to keep training activities diverse and interesting. I think with more experience he will be an excellent trainer.
When I read this it cut through me like a knife.
I felt like a complete failure.
‘TRYING to keep training diverse and interesting.’
‘He will be…’ I’m not already?
Looking back on it now with perspective, it seems crazy. I was a new trainer of course I need some more experience. I mean, this comment it not even bad.
At the time though, I was sensitive about my abilities as a trainer. Being new to the industry I already thought I was doing everything wrong and this somehow confirmed it.
I projected my own insecurities into this benign feedback.
Also, I knew who wrote this too and they didn’t continue with bootcamp after that round. So the comment plus the action of them not continuing equaled negative feelings.
And despite the half a dozen positive comments I also recieved, this was the one I focused on.
The thing is, everyone does this.
I’m writing this article in the hope that you will see you are not alone. Everyone does this at some point in their life.
It’s called Negativity Bias and it’s part of the human condition.
Human beings like to focus on the negative rather than the positive. Just look at the kind of news that gets published everyday.
There are several theories that try and explain this. Here are two that make sense to me are:
- Instinctual – being attacked by a lion is negative for your health. Your brain remembers that so you stay away from lion’s in future.
- Novelty – we expect positive comments as standard. Of course we are a good trainer, anyone telling us so is just confirming our beliefs. Therefore anything that is negative (not standard) will stand out to us.
Is there a lesson?
When we put ourselves out there by starting a bootcamp and establishing ourselves as an expert, we are going to attract negative comments and criticisms. And they hurt the most when you are the highest so they will catch you off guard. Be ready for it.
If you aren’t careful these feelings will bury you. So here’s what to do.
Identify if the critique actually holds any weight or if the person is just being a hater. Often it will be a mix of both.
Check out these examples:
When someone sends me an email abusing me of selling things to them all the time, it’s probably a mix of both.
There was no reason to for them to use that language, after all they did sign up to my mailing list willingly.
But there probably is some merit to it too. Maybe they joined my mailing list just as I launched a new product. Maybe I can work out a way to not send those more sales-y emails to subscribers until they’ve been on my list for longer and I’ve built more trust with them.
When someone gets mad at you at the park because your bootcamp is making noise, it’s probably a mix of both.
Maybe they shouldn’t have told you to ‘F Off’ but maybe in future you could be more considerate and not use a whistle at 5:30am next to their house.
A client leaves you feedback that they don’t like doing boxing at your bootcamp. ‘They hate boxing.’
It’s good to be mindful of your clients feedback. But if the rest of your group loves boxing workouts, then you should probably just keep doing them.
What to do when it happens
(Because it will happen)
Even if we know that these people are wrong or perhaps that they are well meaning but used poor communication. It doesn’t stop it from hurting.
To deal with this, a lot of people will tell you, ‘Just develop a thick skin’. I’m going to warn you away from that.
To me, a thick skin comes off as uncaring. I don’t want to be uncaring. I want to care, I want to have compassion, I want to have empathy. To do that I have to feel the both the nice and the not so nice feelings.
So here is my advice:
First things first. Don’t make any decisions while stressed out or angry.
Don’t reply to any emails. Don’t call anyone back. Don’t make any drastic changes to your business.
Literally, stop and take 5 deep breaths.
Then try one of these things:
1. Every time you get some positive feedback copy it into a folder or document. Over time this document will become a power house of positivity. When you get one of those negative emails, go here and read all of the awesome positive things people have said about you and your business. Remind yourself that you are doing a lot of good too.
2. Call a ‘marble jar’ friend. This is a tip from Brené Brown. A marble jar friend is the kind of person who sends your parents a card on their birthday, who drops everything for you and who is not afraid to keep it real with you. This is not always your spouse so work out who your marble jar friends are and tap into them when you need to.
3. Get outside. Get out into nature. Nature is a huge reset for me. Go run, workout or play and just be for a little while.
Once you have done one or more of these things you will start feeling better.
Bonus tip: If you really want to master handling these feelings, look into meditation. It will help give you the space you need to digest negative stuff like this.
Having a business, putting yourself out there, getting in front of a group of people, these are all things that invite critics.
Sometimes it’s haters just hating but other times it hurts because a part of us that agrees with the statement.
Either way start with breathing then go to your positive stash, call a marble jar friend or get up and get out for a bit.
And most important, know that you are not alone in this feeling.
I’ll leave you with this quote: