Isn't it amazing how our impressions are formed so quickly. I don't know about you but I'm bad about making a judgement based on an initial encounter with someone often times without really getting to know them. Am I the only one? Do you ever do this. Don't get me wrong, my inital impressions aren't always bad or judgmental, they are just that, intial impressions that can often shape a relationship or how you see others. I have to tell you a story about an encounter with two women in my class.
A month ago I was attending another Saturday class to gain experience and "learn" from other instructors. As I was working out, I noticed a couple women in front of me. I noticed that as the younger woman was trying to do the prescribed standing climbs, she was having difficulty keeping up. She would go as long as she could standing then would sit down. Struggling to keep up, she would do this over and over with her form getting worse each time. Finally I decided to "help" her so I proceeded to tell her that it was OK to stay seated and that she didn't have to feel like she had to do everything the instructor was telling us to do. I told her my favorite line that I use everyday in my class, that Spin class is an individual exercise in a group setting. As I was "helping" this woman, she looked at me like "who the heck are you pal" and kept on spinning. I continued working out, feeling that I had really ticked her off. She didn't have a clue who I was. She probably thought I was some know-it-all, indoor cycling hero or something. After class I approached them and introduced myself and tried to encourage them to come to my class and that I was an instructor for the early morning classes. Then we were off.
As I looked back on the experience, I thought, wow she was not receptive to my feedback at all, and that I was just trying to help. Right then my impression of this woman was formed. Not really in a bad way but just the fact that she was not receptive to my feedback and correction. I thought, wow, she really had a problem with me trying to "help".
A week or so later the two women start coming to my class. I re-intorduced myself and chatted for a second before class but mostly very shallow small talk. They continued coming to my class for a couple weeks. Well, yesterday I approached them after class and called the one by name and asked the other "what was your name again?" She replied, and I then asked them if they were friends or sisters. I was just trying to get to know them a little better when the oldest one smiled an said, "she's my daughter". We all laughed and joked about how they looked like sisters and the age difference and so forth. The mom mentioned riding outside and that she didn't have a good road bike that she hasn't invested in one yet but she did do a charity ride last year. Turns out she did the Saul Raisin ride last year. Saul is a kid from across the state line from Dalton, GA. He rode professionally with a French team named Credit Agricole. Saul unfortunately had a crash that almost cost him his life. He suffered a severe head injury and was told that he should never race again. Since then he has started raising money for victims of head injuries. The daughter looked at me and said "My mom rode for me in that ride last year". At that moment it clicked. My heart to the floor. I saw beneath the surface of the situation. Tears welled up in my eyes as I asked, what happened. She told me that she had a jet ski accident a while back and suffered severe trauma to her head and almost died. She was in a coma for 3 and a half months. I told her how sorry I was and that she looked great and seemed to be doing awesome now. Her mom told me how much they liked my class and that it help with balance and coordination. I was touched by the whole incident.
Somehow my age came up and the daughter said, wow, I thought you were my age (25). As usual, I laughed and joked that she was awesome and that when you get old flattery is good for you and stuff like that. Then she said " I told my mom that you were cute, and wondered if you were married". I again laughed and said thank you and thatI was flattered. She could tell I was humbled by the whole encounter and then said "I hope you are not offended by me telling you are cute". Getting the mom to agree, I told her again that flattery was good when your older. Then I said, Heck, I'm not offended, I'll give you a hug for that! We laughed and then went our seperate ways.
How I see it? Well, I learned again that next time I meet someone, I need to be careful not to be so quick to form impressions. I need to take time to see what's on the inside not just the outside. What's beneath the surface. What causes people to respond in certain ways. Who are they and why are they not receptive to you or your feedback? I saw her heart once I took the time to look at it and I was touched. How do you see it?