Dancers Anonymous > What happened to business hours??

Discussion in 'Dancers Anonymous' started by Larinda McRaven, Sep 1, 2013.

  1. Larinda McRaven

    Larinda McRaven Site Moderator Staff Member

    So where did business hours go? Why do I get emails, facebook messages, texts and phone calls at all hours and 7 days a week that reference work related issues and requests?

    Students text at 8pm at night asking for a lesson and then again at 7am the next morning wondering why I didn't respond. "Well, I got done teaching at 11, got home at 1145 and didn't really feel like scheduling lessons for someone at midnight while I was eating dinner on my living room floor."

    People write or call (sometimes all 4 at a time) and ask for a business issue to be taken care of ... on a Saturday and then again on Sunday morning because I haven't responded yet.

    One student (many many years ago) called and left so many messages on our answering machine she used up all of our tape. We were away for the weekend at a competition. When we didn't respond by Sunday evening, and the answering machine was full from her it stopped taking more messages. So she FAXED us a note reminding us to call her... and to tell us our answering machine was broken.

    Not to mention holidays mean nothing. I got yelled at by a member of the Professional Dancers Federation (I am the VP) because he wanted a question answered on the Saturday morning before Christmas last winter. (I had also just moved across the country and was unloading the truck!) By Saturday night he was completely appalled "that I was ignoring him and ineffectual as a leader" and let me know quite vocally on Facebook. He said he knew I was "online and available" because he had seen me comment on a friends status.

    Do other people experience this in their line of work... or are dance teachers supposed to be completely accessible 24/7 with no down time for themselves and families. Did social media and cellphones destroy what little opportunity we had to actually have a day of "not working." Is it even acceptable anymore to take a day or two off and not return work calls? Are we then obliged to not have fun and be proud of it, because we are "hiding" from work emails on a Saturday afternoon?? Should I not post a picture of ziplining without feeling guilty because I did not return a work email yesterday, Saturday of a holiday weekend?
  2. atk

    atk Active Member

    If I may ask, why do your business contacts have your personal contact information?
  3. Larinda McRaven

    Larinda McRaven Site Moderator Staff Member

    I am completely accessible on Facebook (as well as here at DF) to my students. My entire college based clientele in Boston ONLY contact me through facebook. My cell phone is my only phone. I only have one email. And they are listed on my website.
  4. atk

    atk Active Member

    Is there any possibility of separating the two? Perhaps creating a second FB account for personal contacts? Using a single contact method for personal and work stuff seems like it would muddy the waters very quickly.
  5. Joe

    Joe Well-Known Member

    Post on your fb and site that you will only respond to contacts as time is available.
    Bailamosdance likes this.
  6. ChaChaMama

    ChaChaMama Well-Known Member

    1. YES.
    2. It's acceptable to ME.
    3. No.
    4. Definitely do not feel guilty.

    I experience this as well. I don't think students mean to be obnoxious or pushy, but they need to be reminded that I am also a human being with a life outside of my function as "your professor." The demand for instant replies 24/7 is not a demand I feel any need to cater to. I believe in being responsive and compassionate, but there are SOME limits. I am an English professor and an academic advisor, not an obstetrician or an EMT, nor am I your personal servant. If you are giving birth to a baby and the head is crowning, yes, you need immediate attention. If you are feeling symptoms of a heart attack, that is an emergency. If you want an extension on your paper because you started too late and you e-mail me at 2 AM, that is NOT an emergency. If you are really feeling like you might need to drop Spanish, we can definitely talk about that during the four hours of drop in office hours I have each and every week or during an appointment at your choice of times between 8:30 AM and 3 PM, other than when I am teaching. I am not going to be guilt tripped because I chose to read the news over breakfast rather than immediately answering e-mail.

    This year at the start of classes, I made it VERY clear that I expect to be given a minimum of 24 hours to respond to an e-mail or phone call, and that I would prefer to be given 48 hours. I will take it amiss if a student e-mails me some desperate plea for help while pulling an all-nighter and then says in class "I sent you an e-mail but YOU NEVER GOT BACK TO ME!" Dude, "never" hasn't been all that long yet. I am a biological organism. I need to sleep. And in the morning, I may be spending time with my child or reading the news headlines while eating my breakfast. And then I teach starting at 9:10, and then again at 10:20. So you are right, your e-mail might be sitting there in my in box for quite a few hours. Stop feeling unloved and please don't be high maintenance. You do matter to me and I am going to get back to you. But you need to give me the courtesy of 24 hours.

    Larinda, maybe you could hand out a small sheet of paper when someone books a lesson with you with a list of policies, including minimum cancellation policy and a reasonable expectations policy. (That doesn't take care of an angry PDFer, but into everyone's life a few odd people with anger management issues shall fall.)
  7. Larinda McRaven

    Larinda McRaven Site Moderator Staff Member

    And even if I had separate emails or phone numbers, one for friends and one for students, studio owners, competition organizers (which would be impossible considering the vast majority of my friends ARE studio owners, and organizers)... I would still receive the calls/texts/emails ... and still have to ignore them on a Sunday morning.

    And whether or not they have my personal contact info doesn't answer the question...

    "When did it become ok to demand work to be attended to at all hours and on all days.
  8. atk

    atk Active Member


    Yes, perhaps they would continue to do so. However, I would (perhaps incorrectly) expect people to understand that dialing a business number or emailing a business address would result in a reply only when such business is staffed. Like back before we had cell phones :)

    It was my intention only to offer an alternate approach that I have had a modicum of success with, myself. Though my not being a dance instructor, my experience kay well not translate.
  9. Bailamosdance

    Bailamosdance Well-Known Member

    Actually, I am happy to hear from students regarding bookings or changes in their schedules. I do not however reply immediately but also wait until I have time or inclination, and also factor in what else needs to be done to accommodate them. This may be minutes or days. Some students have no way of understanding when our personal lives start and the pro life ends, especially when they see us basically doing what they do for fun.

    If I have a student that demands immediate response and I decide that my time is more important than theirs, eventually it comes to a face to face moment with them, where I mention to them that (for n stance) I do not book until the following day, since I need to assess the other students who are affected. Sometimes they get it and of course sometimes they do not see that I have boundaries. In that case, they either leave me or change their behavior.

    It is a 24/7 world and millennial s do not see anything wrong with it.
  10. sbrnsmith

    sbrnsmith Well-Known Member

    Happens to me all the time. It's not just calls/ messages- I get stopped at the grocery store, when I'm in my shorts and tee and obviously not working, by patients who want to tell me everything that's wrong with them, and want me to take time and respond. I have been at restaurants with my friends enjoying my time off, when I get interrupted by patients, again asking my opinion and telling me all about their medical issues. Friends abuse their access to me too, just because I am a physician, and text me about their medical issues, or their sisters friends medical problems or ask for scripts to be called in, when they are not even my patients! It's just a fact of life that I have had to grow accustomed to and not allow it to bother me.
  11. DL

    DL Well-Known Member

    In the software biz we have a notion of "service level agreement". Between big vendors and customers it formally spells out contractual obligations for keeping a service available within certain constraints (e.g. "the web site will be reachable 99.999% of the calendar year").

    Informally within my company, teams make the same sorts of promises to each other. Distinctions are made between what's supported and what's not. Emergencies and non-emergencies are defined. There are emergency contacts, and clear policies for deciding whether it's appropriate to wake them at 2am.

    My point is basically the same as CCM's: It's up to you to set and enforce boundaries between your professional and personal lives. If you don't, everyone will (wrongly) get the idea that you're always available no matter what.

    The PDF case is a little more tricky. I never heard of that organization until you just mentioned it, but this one anecdote give me the intuition that there's a leadership opportunity to establish a culture ingrained with respect among colleagues for each others' personal time.
  12. Wannabee

    Wannabee Well-Known Member

    It happens in almost every field that derives its progress from "experts", be they teachers, dance pros, doctors, lawyers, IT, etc. I go to my dance lessons and while I'm changing into my dance shoes, another student will ask for my professional advice regarding this issue or that. Most of the time I'm fine with it but occassionally I feel a bit put out. I'm thinking in my head "my pro was talking about his last comp and I really wanted to hear THAT discussion, not this one" or that it would have been nice to get on the floor for 15 minutes before my lesson started but I couldn't think of a way to exit the conversation gracefully, or it just wasn't worth my effort to do so...

    I would imagine a fair number of dance students have busy and lucrative careers of their own that they are juggling. So sometimes the best time for them to organize and structure their hobbies and down time is at odd hours. I will admit that I txt/email my pro about various dance related things, mostly scheduling issues, at odd times (not late at night or early in the morning though). But I don't expect that he will jump right on it and get back to me in the next 2 minutes or anything. I usually even go so far as to say "whenever you have time, can we look at our schedules as I will be out of town on such and such day".

    I think a little courtesy from both parties (in no way implying that you don't do this, I know that you do) will go a long way. I wouldn't fault your students for contacting you (as long as they are as least invasive as possible) at odd times when they may have a free moment or some down time, but I certainly wouldn't be at their beck and call when you do receive their messages.

    If it is really bad, you could always tell the student "I called you because I needed you to move your lesson up today so I can go home sooner. And I know you could have rescheduled because I saw on fb where you were at tagged at Red Lobster with your wife and you commented on a friend's status, so I know you aren't working". o_O
  13. Larinda McRaven

    Larinda McRaven Site Moderator Staff Member

  14. danceronice

    danceronice Well-Known Member

    I take the position I have my cell phone for MY convenience and I will bloody well call you back IF I call you back when I have time. People are free to call, text or e-mail me whenever they like. I'm going to respond when I get to it. (I *will* jump pretty fast on etsy stuff.)

    With the added bonus, when I'm at work, I can't have my phone on anything but silent and couldn't answer it if I did.
  15. Larinda McRaven

    Larinda McRaven Site Moderator Staff Member

    With students the aggravation is minor. I simply return the call/text/email/facebook/DF pm when I have the time, during regular business hours. I do not take my phone with me to our bedroom anymore, and often not on family outings either. They are free to message me, whenever. I just take offense when they become indignant if I don't respond on their timeline. Usually the students that are persistently annoying with this have other issues when it comes to social interactions and tact though.

    Yet it is also other people in the business. People coordinating events... coachings, shows, judging... are notorious for giving you an immediate deadline for things like... to turn in a bio... doesn't matter that I am in someones studio working and without my computer, or on a plane traveling. When honestly these things should have been taken care of weeks before. I can even give them the option of going online to my facebook album and taking anyone of the bios or head shots they want (which is where I would be pulling from anyway!), yet they still text me on a Sunday morning reminding me that I haven't sent one to them yet, It is a weekend. A holiday weekend. The first weekend I OFF, for the first time in 5 weeks. I want to send it with my family who are in town celebrating my one year wedding anniversary. And then being criticized when I am not fast enough for them on my day off.

    Studio owners that call and request days to come in and coach. I book coaching trips about 5 months in advance. When they call and request something in two weeks, I am at a loss, and we go round and round looking for dates for them... in the middle of my lunch on a Saturday, because they want something immediately.

    My husband has this problem also. He is a Police Sergeant and is responding to work emails and texts continually out the day and all night. Even on his days off. The worst is responding to daytime calls, when he should be sleeping because he is on night shift.

    And so we wondered if it a lot to do with our businesses not running on regular hours. A teacher has clear work hours, even though she may take her work home with her... grading papers and such. For ChaChaMama to not respond at 11pm is somewhat expected. But in the dance business weekends ARE work days. Other teachers or studio owners on the west coast get done at 10:30 pm and need to call me in Boston... are going to call. They know I am probably up! We seem to be on call to students and other pros because we just might very well be working at 11pm on a Saturday night.

    And mostly I don't really get up in arms when people leave messages. I guess I just get all out of sorts when I am labeled "slow" "unprofessional" "rude" or uncooperative" when I don't respond at times that I find socially unacceptable.
  16. DerekWeb

    DerekWeb Well-Known Member

    In the corporate world, and especially IT, there are no boundaries. If you do not answer text, IM, emails immediately you are considered lazy. The boundaries are gone. If you want to avoid the next lay off, better answer!

    The millennial generation accepts this as a way of life. I am guessing they think this is normal, just like ignoring you at dinner while texting, wearing a hat indoors, using the F word like the world is is a men's locker room, etc. oops, I am starting to sound like my father! I'll stop now.
    Loki and Debra like this.
  17. Larinda McRaven

    Larinda McRaven Site Moderator Staff Member

    Warning: More Rant!

    My favorite is this:
    • I call student on Monday morning at his request from Sunday night. He asks if he can have a lesson this week.
    • I tell him I am booked for coaching, out of town, all week.
    • I receive a text the very next day, Tuesday, at 8pm requesting a lesson on Wednesday morning. I do not respond immediately because I assume he means NEXT WEEK when I am back in town.
    • At 7am, Wednesday the very next morning, he texts "I guess not."
    • I wait until 10 am to respond... "do you mean today? I am in XYZ city coaching today."
    • He replies "I think we have a failure to communicate."
    • I reply "Oh ok, so you DID you meant next week... I will look at that schedule when I have a moment."
    • Me... "I see you meant for a lesson today. Except, on the phone, I told you I am in out of town this week! So I will put you down for next week"
    End of discussion. No more communication until the next week when I text to confirm his lesson.

    I have absolutely no idea how to respond to demands like this. This is also the guy that threw down the scores from a competition that I judged him and his pro-am teacher. The first words out of his mouth as I entered the building were "Explain yourself." He is pretty close to never receiving a return phone call from me ever again.
  18. Larinda McRaven

    Larinda McRaven Site Moderator Staff Member

    sad... and exactly what I am talking about.
  19. Janson

    Janson Active Member

    I think it's true that '9-5 business hours' are less common than they used to be. Smartphones, facebook, email have all made it possible for contact 24/7. Jobs seem to be more than just pulling the specific hours in the office and more about whether you get your duties done. Dance teachers are definitely less 'set' as I see it - hours will vary day to day, week to week for many. It's certainly more convenient to be able to text/email at any time and potentially get replies faster, especially for little things. Of course I agree that getting to demanding is rude and I would never re-message before 24 hours minimum (unless it was actually urgent) although I'd rarely bother.
  20. Hedwaite

    Hedwaite Well-Known Member

    The sad part is that they will see you posting this message, and think that it doesn't apply to them, or they will become offended and play the hurt-feelings card with you. It's a basic lack of respect for you, and self-respect for them: They don't respect you enough to respect your time, and they don't respect themselves enough not to look needy and desperate.

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