Feeling underappreciated by clients happens to the best of us. But, there are ways to turn this around.
Recently, I was at a birthday party & someone I hadn’t seen in a long time asked what I’d been up to. I briefly shared about a new project in my studio & that I was presenting at a music education conference. “Oh, that’s right. How nice you have this little hobby.”
I’ll admit to being annoyed at first. Hobby? Really? But, then I had a little internal laugh because it was clear the other person just wasn’t interested in believing anything but that my business is a hobby. Even though it never has been.
It is normal to encounter people who feel teaching piano (or any instrument) is just a hobby. While I work to change that perception each day, I remind myself of this. It doesn’t matter which industry you are in, there will be times you feel underappreciated. It’s how you choose to react that makes the difference.
Ways you may be feeling underappreciated
See if the following situations make you say, “You’re speaking to the choir, Rosemarie.”
- Parents ask for exceptions … especially when it becomes a regular occurrence
- Parents or students assuming you have nothing else to do but:
- Answer calls/emails/texts immediately
- Get resources ready before lessons
- Make-up lessons
- Clients quit lessons last minute & maybe even expect a refund
While it’s frustrating & annoying at the time, focusing on the negative doesn’t change anything.
“You can not control other people’s actions. You can only control your reaction to them.”
4 ways to flip the script
Since you can only control your reactions & emotions, you will notice that each of these focuses on what you can do.
The funny thing is that when you focus on your actions & words, those more often than not will have an effect on those around you.
Change your mindset
This is especially hard in the moment. Which is why when I am feeling upset or annoyed, I chose to respond later when I can think through my answer.
Your clients are not the enemy or ungrateful. It is not ALL clients or students that try to take advantage or call your business a “hobby”.
Chances are it’s only a very small segment of your studio clientele that drives you a little crazy. In fact, if you take a step back, you may realize it is only one or two clients that don’t seem to get it.
Remind yourself that you are the professional. Most people have very little to no idea what goes on behind the scenes.
They see the swan graceful coasting across the pond. We see the feet working hard underneath the surface to keep us moving.
When you are feeling underappreciated, remember you control your feelings & emotions. You don’t have to let someone else have that power over you.
Tell your clients you appreciate them often
“Rosemarie, why on earth would I tell someone I appreciate them when they clearly do not appreciate me!?!”
Because you are choosing to flip the script.
Chances are your client isn’t trying to make you feel underappreciated. They just don’t think to say anything that lets you know their positive thoughts about you.
How often do you remember to thank someone or tell them you appreciate them? Whether it’s the janitor at the mall, your significant other when they do the dishes, or a friend who called to say hi when you haven’t seen each other in awhile.
We can all be a bit forgetful about sharing our appreciate towards those around us. Our clients can be the same.
Some examples of appreciation can be:
- “Thank you for making me feel so welcome in your home.” (if you are a travel teacher)
- “Thank you for always checking that Andy has all his books & practice pouch ready before lesson. It makes lesson time more effective when we aren’t searching for anything.”
- “I appreciate how you work with Samantha each week to set up a regular practice schedule. Taking the time to do this with her has led to wonderful progress in the last few months.”
When you tell clients why you appreciate them often, you create positive interactions with them. And, if you send these in between lessons, it reminds them of you as well.
End each lesson with a positive
As humans we tend to remember the first & last parts of any event. When we end each lesson on a positive, we create those warm & fuzzy feelings we all want our clients to have about us.
When you tie in the positive with something you did to prepare, you subtly help your clients see what exactly it is you do for your students.
For example, you could say
- “Sally is really enjoying the new piece she is working on. When I found it, I just knew it would be perfect for her.”
- “Today we had so much fun with our new warm-up unit on [topic]! We will be spending the next few weeks doing [give examples of the types of activities].”
- “You know how much Brian loves his cell phone? Well, this week he is using it before & during practice. We made videos of what he will be practicing so he has extra support during the week. Brian told me he can hardly wait to practice tomorrow.”
Notice how each positive comment about the student reflects your commitment to helping them succeed? Whether it is pulling music, planning units of study or incorporating something the student loves, clients discover very quickly you do more than teach notes on a page.
Meet regularly with colleagues
Unless you teach in a commercial space with other teachers, chances are you will feel a bit alone at times.
Regular get-togethers have been instrumental in my growth as a piano teacher. Plus, they help me keep my head on straight when I start to feel a bit down. (Yes, it still happens to me too.)
Meet regularly with other positive colleagues who celebrate the wins with you & encourage you as they help find ways to solve challenges in your studio.
Remember you are not in this alone. There are other teachers who want to be your cheerleader when you need one or your mentor when you feel a bit lost.
Feeling underappreciated? Not anymore!
You should be able to go through your week with excitement. You can have clients that appreciate all the wonderful things you do for their child & family.
It just takes a few tweaks on your side to create positive relationships with each & every client.
To help you save a little time during the week, I have created a FREE “Client Email Templates” PDF.