This week one of my Tik Tok videos got nine thousand views discussing communication. It was a sum up of what I have learnt about interacting with people from having done over 10000+ hours of personal training. You can watch the video here on Tik Tok or Instagram, or read the sum up below.
As a personal trainer you are in unique space where you spend a lot of time one on one with someone, not just for the hour of the session but week on week and month after month. This means you are around for many up’s and downs the client goes through. A personal trainer falls into a unique space where you are close enough to become a good friend yet distant enough from the clients life to act as a neutral sounding board.
The way I work encourages communication too, I am one on one in a quiet environment (the park) which is so much better than when I was in a busy, loud gym. I also have people do actual strength training, which means a bit of exercise then standing around waiting to go again. Much of modern fitness has become an aerobic circuit of some variation where you never actually stop exercising for more than a few seconds. I believe much of this is because trainers are not comfortable with talking to people. I need space to talk as most of the Grand Unified Theory of Weight Loss is implemented through conversation and coaching. Also, the nature of getting in shape is that it is fully integrated into the rest of your life and what happens in life affects fitness and vice versa.
Anyhow, here is what I have learnt around communication of the years ;
1 – Most people are lonely or unheard – So this was bad 20 years ago when I started, it’s even worse today. People are just in need of more social connection. The modern world has separated us with home working, distractions of Netflix and being on our phone while around others. It is not necessary to be single, widowed or without friends to feel alone. very often some of the most unheard people are in relationships or marriages.
2 – You must create a safe space if want to talk about deeper issues – If you want to really understand what people are feeling and thinking then you have to create a very safe and comfortable place for them to talk. Very often people say, “oh, you can tell me anything” but actually to the person they are chatting to, they do not feel at all comfortable sharing their thoughts on certain topics. This is characterised by just getting surface level answers in your conversations. Great interactions come from creating that safe space, so they know that they can actually say anything that they want or need to say. As a result I have had so many clients tell me things that they admit they have not told anyone before.
3 – How you ask is everything – How you get a deeper conversation going is crucial. This is especially true if you’re talking to men. Most guys will not just readily share how they’re feeling nor what they are thinking. You often cannot just ask directly what is the problem? You have to give stories of your own personal experience, or similar stories of other people. You maybe have to ask in a different, non-direct way. It comes back to that comfortable feeling, do they feel comfortable sharing? Many times, people want to talk to you but it’s just how you’re asking for that information, or perhaps you’re talking too much, never actually listening. If you listen deeply you can create a great connection with another person.
4 – Words do not necessarily mean what they say – People’s words often do not reflect what they actually think. Someone’s words are simply the best reflection of how they are feeling at that point. We think through our words, so what someone first says may not reflect what they actually think or will think when they have finished their thought process. Often by saying certain things you soon realise you do not feel that way about the issue. It is important in communication to not just take every word that is said as gospel, but actually investigate what they’re saying. Do they actually believe that? And if so, what does that mean? Conversation is about guiding people to know a little bit more about their own thoughts and feelings.
5 – Listen beyond the words – What someone actually says is only a tiny bit of the conversation. Words are only a fraction of communication. You got to also look at things like the speed that they’re talking, the type of words they’re using, the body language that’s associated with the words, the volume, the intonation facial expressions…. Also, what are they not saying? All of these give a lot more information than just the words that are spoken. Most people aren’t looking for these things, they are too busy thinking up what to say back to the person and therefore miss out on the information.
What Does This Means For You?
Almost everyone on the planet, including me, could increase the quality of their life through becoming better at communicating. This is usually about becoming better at listening and receiving information from others rather than talking more yourself. If you are able to take your conversations from the surface level to a little deeper then you will feel more connected.
This whole subject ties into your health & fitness significantly. The state of your relationships with friends, family or a partner will have a great influence upon your happiness and stress levels. There is no other goal that is so integrated into every other area of your life than health & fitness. If one area is totally out of balance then there is little point in telling someone what exercise to do or what foods to avoid. On the other hand, if sharing a problem halves it, that in itself may be enough to get your fitness efforts back on track. This is why over the years I have had stories of affairs, break ups, betrayals, bankruptcies, arguments at home, work and within the family. Discussions over body image, mental health, addictions, sexual issues, doubts, dreams and much more.
Photo – A photo of some of my recent Tik Tok videos. see here>>