Last week I gave you my reason for complaining. .. every tiny detail. Yes, I’m sorry that post was so long. No, I will not go back and edit it to make it shorter. In fact, before we get to the lessons I’ve learned I have a little more drama to share that accompanied my horrific experience with a personal trainer.
First, go back and read that post if you haven’t. I’ll wait.
Okay, now that you’re balking with me, I’ll tell you why I had to wait TWO WEEKS to complain. As I mentioned, I left the gym that night absolutely fuming. I actually stopped by the office to look for the staff person who manages the personal trainers, but since it was nearly 9:00 p.m., he’d long since left for the day. Instead, I wrote message and left it on his desk: “Please give me a call as soon as possible. I need to change trainers.” I’m confident I was pressing so hard on that paper with that pen, that my anger was obvious to the reader.
This disaster occurred on a Thursday and when I didn’t hear back by Sunday, I assumed the weekend was interfering. I called on Monday and left a message. I called on Wednesday and left a message. I left a written message at the front desk on Thursday. I called on Monday and left a message. I called on Tuesday and left a message. Are you getting frustrated with me?
The funny thing is, the more my messages went ignored, the less angry I became with the trainer in question. In fact, I went from inventing irrational reasons why she treated me so poorly (it must be because I was wearing a Citadel t-shirt and she was a female cadet there who was mistreated) to embracing rational reasons and finding peace with them (she’s an unhappy person and treating others badly acts like a bandaid for her). I went from wanting – no, needing – to see this woman dramatically fired in front of me to feeling a measure of pity for her. I mean, she gets paid practically nothing to help people work out and it’s JANUARY meaning most of her “clients” hate her and will quit soon.
In short, my goal changed. I no longer wanted revenge. I wanted resolution. And I’m so glad.
On Wednesday, after that last message, I went back to the front desk and stood waiting to be helped. I was approached by a man who looked more-in-charge than the receptionist and who asked if he could help.
“I hope so,” I told him. ‘ I was hoping to talk with someone about changing trainers. I’ve left five messages over the past few weeks and no one has contacted me and honestly, I just want to get set up with a new trainer and get this resolved.”
And so things were resolved. The man apologized to me that no one had returned my calls and briefly discussed with me why I wanted to change trainers. I simply told him that I had some concerns with how my session with Trainer J had gone and didn’t feel like it was a fit. No bashing. No tattling. And in fifteen minutes, I had a new appointment with a new trainer. I left the gym with a sense of peace and with the knowledge that the man who’d helped me was actually the gym’s manager who intended to rectify all the things that went wrong with my situation. I had resolution and some wisdom.
- Cool down. Even if only for a few minutes, resist the urge to lash out in anger. Your anger sounds irrational or whiny (or both) EVEN IF it’s justified. Irrational, whiny conversations rarely result in an ideal outcome. It’s now been several weeks since my bad experience and I would honestly feel bad if I’d yelled at Trainer J or caused her to be fired. I’m so glad I cooled down.
- Offer grace. Pointing out a wrong is one of the most beautifully teachable moments there is. You can offer punishment or grace. I’ve found that people – especially adults – don’t respond well to reprimand, but if you can gently point out an offense and then forgive that offense you’ll right a wrong AND teach compassion.
- Pursue resolution and be prepared to ask for specific actions to bring it about. When you’re treated badly it’s okay to expect the situation to be rectified in some way. I’ve found it helps to have a realistic resolution in mind. I told the gym manager that ultimately I wanted to get back into my training routine as quickly as possible and that I hoped messages would be handled better. He responded by booking a new training appointment for me that same week and asking the reception staff to send messages directly to staff voicemails instead of taking hand-written notes (which presumably get lost). See? That feels better.
- But, don’t pursue revenge. What if I had found the trainer’s manager that night at the gym? I’ll be honest – I’d have tried and condemned that trainer, demanded refunds and public stonings and probably threatened legal action. I may have given myself a reputation among the trainers (that woman is such a complainer – she will get you in trouble!). I may have gotten Trainer J fired (in this economy? Yeah, I’d feel bad. What if she has kids?). And if I’d been refunded my money and Trainer J had been publicly fired and the whole gym staff had been forced to serenade me with show tunes, I’d still be out of my training routine and I’d probably feel like a jerk. And hey, God’s pretty clear no this one: “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”” (Romans 12:19)
- Reward good behavior. After all, we people are a lot like dogs: throw us a Scooby Snack and we’ll keep doing what you want. When all was said and done, I wrote a note to the gym manager thanking him for listening to my concerns and helping me resolve the situation. I was clear that I had been very disappointed, but equally clear that I was now happy and planned to offer the gym a clean slate.
Last week, I met with my new trainer. He’s a really big scary guy. He’s also extremely nice and polite, asked me tons of questions and spent a lot of time working to understand my goals. He led me through a workout that left me sore for three days. And I loved it.