Evaluation, Coaching, Appreciation

We need evaluation to know where we stand, to set expectations, to feel reassured or secure. We need coaching to accelerate learning, to focus our time and energy where it really matters, and to keep our relationships heathy and functioning. And we need appreciation if all the sweat and tears we put into our jobs and our relationships are going to feel worthwhile.

Douglas Stone & Sheila Heen, Thanks for the Feedback

The scenario: A member who's been with your gym for a while now is expressing some frustration about the amount of progress he's making. He comes to you looking for help.

The first question you should ask yourself is what he's actually looking for.

If he's looking for evaluation, you might say:

"Well, Bill, when you're here in the gym, I see you working hard. Your coachable, you're willing to listen, & I know you're not just checking the boxes. But you're only here two times a week. Are you willing to try coming in four or five times a week next month so we can see if that might get us over the hump?"

If he's looking for coaching, you might say:

"Well, Bill, you've been here long enough that you move really well, & when you're here, I see you working your tail off. But we're missing an element of consistency. What do you think is getting in the way of taking a few more classes a week?"

If he's looking for appreciation, you might say:

"Well, Bill, first I gotta say that you're not giving yourself enough credit. You've been a member of the gym for years, & of course over that time we're going to see some natural ebbs & flows with the progress we're making. The key is in recognizing when we've hit a plateau, & you've done that. So what do you think is causing the problem?"

It'd be nice if we entered into these kinds of conversations with the goal explicitly articulated, but alas, humans are too messy for that. Even the person we're talking with won't often know what kind of feedback they're looking to get.

The trick: Don't be in such a rush to solve a problem that you end up solving the wrong one.

We can do that by slowing down, asking lots of questions, & listening actively. Just like everything else in the gym, these are skills that can be improved with attention & enough repetitions.

Patrick Cummings