As a personal trainer, you spend a lot of time learning how to present yourself. You need to learn how to present yourself to potential clients, to gym owners, to the general public. How to look, how to dress, how to speak. You need to be able to sell yourself and your services just upon a glance and a small pitch. This means commanding attention and making sure that attention stays on you. Even after you’ve landed that job at a gym or that new client, you are still in that mindset of presenting yourself. One of the biggest downsides of this is that you spend too much time talking and not enough time listening.
You forget how to listen, when in reality this is what you should be doing most with your clients. Yes, your clients want to hear your thoughts and they want to know your professional opinions. They are paying you for that advice. But, they are also paying you to listen to them. When they have a certain problem or pain in their body or movement, you need to be able to listen, assess the situation and give great advice to them.
Many trainers will use the same basic outline for each one of their clients and make minor changes to “spice things up” for each client. This is unacceptable, and not what they are paying you for. They are paying you for independent treatment and rightfully expect to get independent advice, specific to them.
Aside from listening to them about fitness things, clients will also want to talk about their personal lives. This is another form of listening that trainers may have a difficult time with. A lot of times, people tend to only take and remember certain things from conversations with people. We pick out what we want to hear and forget the rest. This is a common thing that all people do. We also tend to “wait to speak” rather then listening attentively to the other person. To fend off against this you can become an “active listener.”
Active listening consists of physical and verbal affirmation that you are listening to the other party. Physically, this means your body language. Show your engagement in what they are saying with nodding your head in understanding or other forms of body language to show the speaker your are listening and care about what’s being said. Verbally, this means giving the speaker feed back to what you’ve heard by way of re-stating or paraphrasing what they’ve said. When repeating what you’ve heard it shows you are not only listening, but also your understanding. Usually doing this as a question to make certain you understand correctly.
An example would be, “What I hear you saying is…” This lets the speaking party know you are listening and want to confirm your understanding of what they’ve said. This not only shows understanding but a caring for what they’ve said. This makes people feel valued, because who doesn’t want to be heard? When people feel valued they are more likely to respond positively to you and your services.
Active listening is so simple, but it honestly shows you are interested and want to engage with this person, instead of you jut talking to them and not listening. This can do wonders for your face-to-face marketing and how people perceive you as a brand. Most everyone would rather deal with someone who is willing to stop trying to get their point across and just listen. I’m always prone to work with or even buy something from the person who is not just interested in themselves, but are interested in me as a customer and willing to listen to me.