One of the things I love about aquatics as an industry is that is encompasses so many fields. I must have a very clear understanding of some hard sciences: Geometry, Physics, Algebra to run my pool. In order to know pool chemistry, one must practically have a Ph.D  in Chemistry. Classic, undisputed and clear. I like the rules and boundaries that these subjects offer, and the results when you deviate from them.

Dealing with people is a whole other set of bubbles.  What is right for one person is offensive to another. The rules get rewritten with every person. Where is the rule book? Glossary, please! During the holidays, I always feel like I’m juggling glass bubbles, and one wrong, un-PC comment will cause shards of glass to fly.

“Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanza, Happy Holidays…”

 I once told a client “Have a happy Ramadan!”  She was Jewish.   *Crash*

Conversely, we have an instructor who wears a modest body suit and head wear in compliance with her religious faith. She spends more time explaining the meaning of  her suit than she does teaching. Frequently, she confides in me that she wishes people would simply embrace the difference, rather than having her explain the reasons for it.

Embrace the differences.

At our pool we have an extremely diverse clientele, and with that comes the complex myriad of  religious faiths, ideals, cultural practices and belief systems.  As aquatic professionals, swim instructors dealing with multitudes of cultures need to work hard and sensitively at learning about their clients, their cultural celebrations and holidays, beliefs and family practices.  Know the child, and even more, know the child’s family. Building that bridge and fostering those relationships can produce great swimmers, happy kids and satisfied parents.

As Stephen Covey is famously quoted: Seek first to understand, then to be understood.

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