Repeating Myself About Piano Policies – What My OB Taught Me
“I’m so tired of repeating myself about piano policies. Why can’t my families just get my make up policy (or tuition structure or late fee)?”
This is a common complaint among piano teachers and I completely empathize. I get tired of repeating myself too!
But the other day, I was in an exam room waiting for my Ob/Gyn (No, I’m not pregnant!) and a light went on for me. Though the rooms are well insulated, I could hear a patient in the next room asking my doctor questions. Her voice was a little higher and louder than most people’s, so I could clearly understand her words.
“I keep having these contractions that come every 3-4 minutes, but then they go away. Am I getting close?”
As she asked these words, I thought of the three children I had given birth to courtesy of this wonderful doctor’s care. I know that I asked this question. But not only did I ask this question, I know I asked it with every one of my pregnancies.
Professionals repeat themselves. A lot.
Can you imagine how many times an obstetrician gets asked the same questions! And I’m sure even by the same patients who have multiple babies.
I listened and heard my obstetrician’s wonderful, low and calming voice, reassuring this patient and explaining Braxton-Hicks contractions.
She was patient and reassuring.
She wasn’t annoyed.
She realized that explaining these things was her job as a professional but most importantly…
She realized that this pregnancy was a new experience for this patient. And even if this patient had asked the same question the week before, the facts did not change. The patient needed reassurance that everything was going to be all right and that this was normal.
Can you imagine if your obstetrician said, “I’m so tired of repeating myself about explaining contractions!”? You’d probably find a different doctor, right?
How can I not hate repeating myself about piano policies?
You probably already see how this applies to piano teachers, but I’ll just summarize.
When we are faced with multiple questions about our policies, we can respond more gracefully and confidently when we do these things:
- Remember that this policy is a new experience for this parent.
- Even when it’s not a new experience, remember that people need to hear things over and over again before they remember (around 7 times is what many say).
- Give parents the reassurance they need that everything will work out. They need to be reassured that their money is working for them even if they miss a lesson!
- Make your case backed by the facts (policy) that do not change. The policy is what it is and reassuring them that their investment is working for them is important.[Of course, you are free to make exceptions and I’ve talked at length about that. But you must be firm with most of your policies so that you can have room to make exceptions for those who need it most.]
- Be the professional. You are not only a piano teacher, but a business owner, a CEO, and much more.
- Remember that there are just too many things on parents’ minds for us to expect that they will remember all our policies.
- Even if you know that the parent knows the policy they are questioning, reinforce your policy by being firm. They’ll get the idea eventually.
I know repeating yourself is hard. But if you get to the place where you are tired of repeating yourself about piano policies, seek to understand from where the parent is coming (they forgot, they were confused, they got busy, etc.). Many times, it can actually become a lovely way to connect with them. It doesn’t happen that way all the time because there are always parents that are unreasonable. But, a lot of parents just forget, misunderstand, or are legitimately confused.
I know you already try to be empathetic, but I hope these thoughts will help it come more easily!
It can’t hurt to try.
- How to Move to a No Make-up Lesson Policy
- Piano Business Solutions – the page devoted to all things piano business
- Best Stress-Free Business Practices for the Piano Teacher Workshop – the workshop that has changed the income and stress level of hundreds of teachers