Everyone has bad training days now and then for whatever reason—you're feeling tired, sore, hungry, distracted, anxious, insecure, sick—you get the point. During those discouraging moments, it's nice to have kind, caring, patient teammates or exercise buddies to help each other snap out of a funk, especially before the negative energy sinks in and poisons the friendly group workout environment.
Keep your social training sessions positive, productive, and fun with these four savvy strategies for improving communication from California-based life coach Jamie G. Dougherty, who spoke about this topic at the annual Luna Chix Summit in Berkeley, CA.
1. Spell out your expectations. When you're moving a mile a minute (and some of us really are on a bike!), it's easy to get caught up in your sky-high goals (like go faster, harder, longer) and forget to check in with yourself about what you really want from this experience. Get a clear understanding of your own expectations, first and foremost, then share them with your workout partners. Remember, people won't know the play if they haven't seen the playbook. Once you have had an open and honest conversation about what you all expect to get from your shared fitness plan, you can move forward without stepping on anyone's toes.
RELATED: Whatever you do in attempt to meet your fitness goals, beware of eight well-meaning workout strategies that backfire.
2. Create space for your truth. Your strengths and weakness will hardly ever match that of your teammates. So naturally, you're going to work on different things even if you're sharing the same plan. But sometimes it's hard to see—or admit to yourself—where you need improvement, especially when your teammates aren't facing the same issues. Ignoring your truth can be frustrating for everyone. If you don't speak up about a too-fast pace or tiresome training route, then no one will enjoy the workout, least of all you. Try to share your feelings without thinking they are wrong or bad. You may not see eye-to-eye with everyone, but at least you're working toward finding a positive solution.
3. Make difficult conversations easier. Preparing for a tough talk can oftentimes cause your body to flip out—shoulders tighten, tummy clenches, neck stiffens. When that happens, you need to immediately calm down, otherwise you're faced with only two knee-jerk reactions: run away or lash out. First take a few deep breaths to loosen those tense muscles. Then enter the conversation from a judgment-free zone. This can be challenging because we often judge ourselves harshly, making it tempting to judge others in the same way. Next be a third-party observer. Step outside of yourself and try to see the chat from the other person's perspective as well as your own. Imagine what it would be like to speak to this person from a calm, confident place. How would you listen to them? What would you say to get on the same playing field?
RELATED: If you've been saying one-on-one gym sessions are too expensive, check out five reasons to hire a personal trainer.
4. Ask open-ended questions. Take notes from the Oprah Winfreys of the world: Think like a journalist—be inquisitive and actively listen. Avoid leading questions that imply the answer before it's given such as, “Hey, are you mad?” This kind of insensitive inquiry will immediately piss off the person who received the question, even if they weren't angry to begin with. Plus their only options to answer are “yes” or “no.” Instead try asking, “How are you?” By asking who, what, when, why, and how questions, you open up the conversation to lead to a deeper connection. The person will suddenly feel heard, which will makes him or her more likely to agree rather than fight with you.