We live in a very “feedback-driven” world. Now, more than ever, there are many avenues for people to share their thoughts and feelings. We have all sorts of social media channels, consumer feedback sites like Yelp, blogs and articles. And, we can’t forget the old-fashioned way; when someone tells us his or her opinion in person.
As a yoga teacher, I’ve gotten a great deal of feedback over the years relative to my teaching. Some have been spoken, some written, some provided via social media.
One of my teachers, Baron Baptiste, used to say, “People vote with their feet.” This was said to me many years before social media existed, but I knew it meant that I could use the attendance in my classes as one of the metrics to measure my effectiveness as a teacher.
What Kind Of Feedback Is There?
Spoken: What someone says. Maybe they comment after class, “Wow, that was a great class!” Or maybe they say, “Was this supposed to be a heated class? It didn’t seem very hot to me.”
Written: What someone writes (via social media or perhaps an email to you or the studio owner). This might be an email from a student to the studio owner, complaining that you approached them about leaving class early. Or, it might be a comment on your Facebook page from a student praising your teaching.
Non-verbal: What someone communicates with his or her body language. This might be what you perceive as an unfriendly glance in your direction while you’re teaching, or could be a smile you get from a student while teaching.
Our Reactions To Feedback
When it comes to our reactions to feedback, we can:
- Take it personally, letting good feedback go to our heads and letting negative feedback send us into a fit of tears;
- Not take it personally and ignore it;
- Consider some of it valid and disregard the rest by acknowledging that some of it doesn’t apply;
- Use it to change our actions going forward, which would be the case if the feedback really resonated with us.
The interesting thing about feedback is that we can choose to have little to no reaction whether it’s positive or negative. Of course, it’s easy to take positive feedback to heart and I’m not suggesting that you don’t revel in the glow of positive feedback about your classes.
But, the idea here is that whether good or bad, the less we react to feedback, the more we can stay authentic and humble.
Keep Your Eyes On The Class
The other aspect about feedback to keep in mind, especially if it’s more on the negative side (the class wasn’t hard enough, was too hard, was too hot, was too cold, etc.) is that as teachers, we need to keep in mind that our job involves teaching in a group setting.
This means that we have to keep our eyes on the class as a whole and stay true to the agenda at hand.
We can’t stop the class to accommodate one person’s desires and can’t conduct the class in a way that caters to just one specific student. How we balance everyone’s individual needs is part of the skill of teaching.
Feedback Is Also A Great Way To Grow.
Students can be our best teachers and how we come across to others, what we present, how we present it, and other aspects of our teaching are all up for grabs when it comes to feedback. Rather than get defensive, try to step outside yourself and really listen to what’s being said.
See if there are pieces of what’s being said that resonate with you. Look for opportunities to learn from others and be less reactive.
If you’ve read Don Miguel Ruiz’s book, The Four Agreements, you know that one of his guidelines for living a peaceful life is “Don’t take anything personally.” This applies well to teaching yoga. When we can stay grounded in our bodies, we are less reactive.
When we avoid taking things personally, we can really listen to what’s being said and evaluate in a non-judgmental way what is being said. It also helps us stay balanced as we receive both positive and negative feedback. Keep an open mind and use feedback to help you grow.