Teach Yourself to Tolerate Anger


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We can't anticipate every situation that we will encounter in our lives as teachers.One teacher wrote to me for help with an unforeseen situation:

Please help me out on this one. I have a student who broke her arm and was unable to attend lessons for two months. When the accident occurred, I told the parents that I would be putting another student in their time slot. The child's arm is now healed, and they are demanding their original time slot. 
What I am doing now is giving them a copy of my schedule and asking them what time slot would work for them. Then I will go and ask the student occupying that spot if they can switch.                                     

This is slippery, but solvable. My alarm went off at the word, "demanding." As teachers we often forget that we don't have to be liked every moment of every day by every person. In fact, if we are, we are probably doing something wrong.

Here are my suggestions:                                                        

  • Remember that scheduling is always a jigsaw puzzle. There are different sized pieces and multiple variables. I've noticed over the years that when a student has an "immovable scheduling conflict" that I can't accommodate, that conflict often miraculously disappears. Strange, but true.
  • Don't move heaven and earth or upset your entire schedule to fit back in a student who is demanding anything. It will make the rest of the people who are doing their best to be flexible feel taken advantage of. It will let the demanding parent think they can boss you around. What I would do is send an email to all your students asking if there's anyone who would like to make a change and let them know about the opening. Sometimes something has changed for a family and it may be a perfect fit. If not, I would offer the returning student whatever slot you have. You can send a warm, but firm email something like this:
Dear Louise,
I am so pleased that Suzy's arm is completely healed. What a relief that must be to you all! 
I have sent an email out to all my students letting them know that Sunday at 6 pm is an open slot in case one of them might like to take it. If not, I have Tuesday at 5:30 or Wednesday at 4:15 open right now. If none of those will work, we'll have to wait to resume Suzy's lessons until your schedule or mine changes - hopefully soon.

In my studio right now, I have a family whose child has a chronic health crisis. They have literally no control over medical appointments and illness. They miss a lot of lessons. It's from ideal, but we are all aware of the compromises made to keep the child in a semblance of a normal lesson schedule.  

It is not possible to foresee every problem a family will have that will affect your business. One must learn to tolerate the anger of a parent or two once in a while. The best business practices will not make everyone happy all of the time. They will be fair and honest and the people you want in your studio will respect you for them.

Good luck!