All massage therapists know that we prefer our clients to speak up during a massage if anything feels uncomfortable. Unfortunately, the necessity of this message leads us to repeat ourselves so often on this score that, if we’re not careful, the discussion about feedback becomes rote, almost robotic, as in: “by-the-way-if-anythhing-doesn’t-feel-right-please-let-me-know.”
The trouble is that when we sound insincere or automatic about this, the client hears that their comfort doesn’t matter on our table, and that’s the last thing we want to communicate. This can be especially true for our clients who are new to massage therapy. Unless we have actively invited them to speak up, they can be genuinely reluctant to provide us with feedback during the session because they don’t want to upset their therapist with what might be interpreted as negative comments. Realizing that just because we’ve said a million times to our clients that we welcome their feedback, doesn’t mean that a particular person has heard it a million times; this may be only their first or second time. Slowing down and really putting our heart into it and explaining to our clients that, not only are we open to feedback, but we count on it and appreciate it, will go a long way toward letting them know that we mean it, that their comfort matters.
Here are some examples of how to do this:
“It’s really important to me that you let me know if anything could be better or is uncomfortable at all for you.”
“Feel free to speak up. I really count on feedback from you to make sure that what I’m doing works for your body.”
“There are so many styles and techniques, and I want to be sure that the ones we use are the right ones for you. So, go ahead and let me know what’s working, or not, or is at all uncomfortable, while we’re working.”
Next time you greet a client, make sure you tune in and pay attention. Are you just speeding through this important part, or are you genuinely inviting your clients to give you that vital feedback?