Stop Yelling At Me, Swan
Yesterday was an exceptionally windy afternoon in Austin, Texas at Manor Equestrian Center. Texas has a way of making everything bigger and the weather patterns seem to fall right in line with that mentality. As we don't have a covered arena, my afternoon lessons were buffeted by howling winds and flying sand particles. Picture Lawrence of Arabia style teaching.
Alright, that may have been a little dramatic, but it was very windy. I am not a "yeller". When I teach, I don't tend to yell during lessons, nor warm-ups at shows etc. Don't get me wrong, I can bellow when I need to, but it's not my go-to lesson style. Most of you already know that, but more importantly, my students know that. The reason I wanted to share this was that as an instructor I had an interesting experience yesterday while teaching. The harder the wind blew, the louder I got, the more my students were visibly frustrated during their rides. Sure they were working on harder dressage techniques, but they are a hard working group of riders and typically enjoy harder lessons. By the end of the lessons, two of my students looks absolutely down trodden. It suddenly dawned on me that even though the verbiage I was using hadn't changed, the WAY I said it had. The increase of my intonation to speak over the wind basically made them feel like I was yelling AT them. Since I rarely raise my voice in lessons, even though they intellectually knew I wasn't yelling at them, they subconsciously reacted as if I was yelling at the. Interesting, isn't it?! As instructors and humans in general, the way we use our voice can often be more important than the words we are saying. How we say something brings tremendous variance to what we are saying. I know we all have a lot of think about while we are riding, coaching, and interacting with each other but this experience made me think of a Ted talk I heard a while back, that I think you might like. Take a few minutes and think about how this could improve your own communication style!
*no students were harmed in the making of this blog post.