Every country and it's inhabitants have distinct characteristics, culture, personality and flare! Before making the trip to the Netherlands a friend loaned me a copy of the book "The Undutchables: an observation of the Netherlands, its culture and its inhabitants". Being of Dutch descent I felt I had an inside perspective of what to expect but the title got me excited for our adventure so I dove right in (Thank you Maureen and Stu!). While reading along I thought to myself how stereotypical it was and that just like people think Canadians; live in igloos, drink maple syrup and every other word they say is eh! I thought these stereotypes would be dispelled on my arrival. This book, in a very exact yet funny way discloses all the secrets about the Dutch and they are ALL true. In my short two months living in the Netherlands I have observed; people riding their bikes anywhere and everywhere, no one closing their curtains or blinds, being offered coffee and vlaai anywhere and everywhere as well as the direct manner in which they communicate . If you are interested in getting a really reliable inside look at the culture of the Netherlands I highly recommend it. So I'm sure at this point you're wondering about the title of today's blog. Well it falls in line with the description of the communication style and personality of Dutch people. I have been teaching a number of fitness classes here and as part of that experience I have had the opportunity to have instructor evaluations. I have come to realize that these evaluations are not structured in the Canadian style that I am familiar with - you know the feedback sandwich??? positive + constructive feedback + positive, this is how I like to give feedback to the people I work with. The Dutch are much more direct, specific and no nonsense in how they give constructive criticism. You really do need a thick skin to take it and to use it to improve. Although it is tough to hear sometimes, feedback like this is what makes you better. If you are mature enough to take it and use it this can make a good instructor a great instructor. I always ask for feedback from participants in my classes and it's lovely to get great feedback but you've got to be able to take the good with the bad. The poor reviews are the one's that give you the opportunity to grow. Nick always says "If you can't handle it, don't ask for it" and you know what, he's right. After this experience I plan to adopt a more direct style of management in certain instances. I think there is a lot to be said for guiding people to construct their own conclusions but this direct approach is very clear and concise and very effective in certain instances.
Since we've been here I've tried to be really open to every learning opportunity put in front of me. To treat every interaction as an opportunity to learn something about that person and myself. It is a real goal of mine to try not to take anything too personally, those who know me well know this is very difficult for me. I think that people around me have observed this effort because on numerous occasions people have made the comment that I have a great attitude about feedback and learning. I really do appreciate getting the feedback and suggestions on ways to improve. I want to be a great instructor and to empower and motivate as many people as I can. I recognize that there is always another way to do things. It doesn't mean one way is right and one is wrong. Sometimes different is good thing :) I have been told that most Dutch people don't take the feedback as well as I have. In fact I have been told that other instructors can get confrontational or defensive when told they need to change or adapt. I've been told by my supervisors that the Dutch are very proud people and apologizing or recognizing that there is a better way to do things then the current way that they are doing them is a sign of weakness. I've been told by other international visitors that the response they get when inquiring about why things are done in a specific way here as opposed to another way they are told "This is how it is in the Netherlands" with no additional reasoning. I hate to say that this is how all people are but I have run in to this on more then one occasion myself.
Today I taught a class at a new gym. The gym is called MAC social club. It's a little more commercial then I would like but there is a great opportunity to learn there. I implemented some of the suggestions from the other gyms I'm teaching at and really enjoyed how it improved my class. Even with the language barrier I was able to communicate with actions and a big smile. A number of participants came to see me after class to let me know how much they enjoyed it. A good attitude really does go a long way!