Giving AND Receiving Feedback Like a Pro

By Nathalie Lacombe

We’ve all been there – someone comes up to us at the worst possible moment and asks. “Can I give you some feedback?” with a tone of voice we know means trouble. We put ourselves on defense and prepare for the inevitable.

Most of us haven’t learned how to give and receive feedback in a manner that leads to the result we’re hoping for, and this leads to really uncomfortable conversations for everyone involved.

Remembering that we build empathy from a place of integrity, the fastest way to grow out of our current comfort zone is to get better at asking for feedback. This means asking for simple, specific, and genuine feedback. Try the following questions:

  • What is one thing I can do less of?
  • What is one thing I can do more of?
  • What is one thing I can stop doing?

And then comes the most critical thing for us to say; nothing! Getting comfortable with silence, which includes our words, body language, and thoughts, is the key to receiving feedback. Actively listen to what they say which includes not preparing our response. Once they’re done speaking, gives it a couple of seconds, then you can ask for clarification i.e. Do you mean in this situation or that one?

Always end the conversation by thanking them for taking the time to share their feedback and let them know you’ll take their ideas into consideration. A little gratitude goes a long way!

What this means for fitness professionals

Schedule time to ask for and apply feedback. Use the written questions above as an informal survey you hand out to your clients and participants for 1 week each quarter. Have a colleague that you know cares about your growth come observe you teach/train/coach. Ask your boss to partake in your program and share with them the 1 thing you’ve been working on so that they can let you know if you’ve improved. The more often you get great, meaning relevant feedback, the easier it will become to ask for it and receive it.

What this means for fitness managers and decision makers

In order to create a culture of open, candid, and productive feedback that leads to engagement and growth you must lead by example. Start asking your staff for feedback regarding how you handled a meeting, a program launches, etc. If they share feedback along the lines of “a lot of us are thinking…” they aren’t yet comfortable being candid with their own insights. This may be coming from their past experience or it may be coming from a fear of how you will react; regardless it’s critical to use compassion and ask them more direct questions such as “Your opinion really matter to me, I’m actually curious to hear what you thought of…”.

What this means for fitness education providers

Many of your participants will give you fantastic feedback about your training and a small number will provide feedback that’s tough to hear and not particularly relevant. The former are fantastic to keep for testimonials to share, and try not to spend too much time on the latter if it’s truly not relevant to your brand and program.

What you really want is thought-provoking feedback that helps guide tweaks to your content and delivery. These are priceless and too often the type of insights you’ll wish someone had shared with you soon. The best way to get your hands on it is through carefully worded surveys questions they can answer on site or shortly after the training.

Questions along the lines of:

  • What was your favorite/least favorite section of the training and why?
  • What’s one concept/idea/exercise/etc. you would have liked to spend more/less time on?
  • If you could add one concept/section to the training what would it be?
  • How will you use what you’ve learned in the training immediately?

YOUR NEXT STEP: Click here for FREE access to my 4-part video series 4 Steps to Propel Your Fitness Career and let me know which of the 4 will make the biggest impact for you!