So, this is something I have been aware of for a long time. Unfortunately, it’s just part of who I am and as much as I take heat when boundaries are crossed, it will not change who I am. I have learned throughout the years when to remain silent, and I am very respectful of others.
Just like someone who feels as though they are too quiet, this is my personality defect.
In defense of those who tend to talk instead of remain silent I want to clear up a few misconceptions.
- I am paying very close attention.
- I listen. In fact, I listen very well.
- I think out loud.
- It isn’t that I like to hear myself talk.
- I feel compelled to share thoughts, experiences, and laughter with others.
- This conflicts with people who need or prefer silence.
- I am not self-obsessed. Just open.
- It is just one form of open communication, which I require to do my job well.
- I can relate to most people this way, and connect on a personal level.
- I am nervous, just like you. If we can laugh together, things are better for all of us.
- I know when to shut-up. Ok, most of the time…
When you work in a profession that requires you to break the ice with a stranger, daily and on a regular basis, you learn what works best for you. My way of navigating this otherwise, very uncomfortable environment, is to talk. When I open up, others will understand that this process is intended to engage them, so I can find out what their needs are. When I know a little about who you are, and what you like, then I can make you happy with your hair. I will continually put myself out there, on the front line, so you know I am not judging you. I am open to whoever you are, whatever you like, and can most likely help you meet your goals through connecting.
It’s all about connecting.
As a client it is very helpful to your stylist if you have at least a vague idea of what you want, and what you don’t want. Make sure that your hair will actually do what you are asking as well. When you go into the salon, and you say, “Do whatever you want”, you and I both know that isn’t what you really want. My (maybe even rude) joke is- ok, lets do a blue mohawk. The point is, you don’t want just whatever, you want something specific, even if you aren’t sure what that is.
It is our job, behind the chair, to notice certain things about you in order to ask the right questions and suggest options you might be interested in. What kind of clothes you are wearing gives us an idea of the comfort level you select in your every day activities. Are you wearing a scent? Makeup? Which car in the parking lot is likely yours? – I wouldn’t ask this but I would try to guess. Which magazine did you select? Did you sit down and start looking at your hair or are you looking at me instead, trying to figure out if you trust me…
Then the conversation- keep in mind this is haircut specific:
1st question- How long do you want to spend on your hair every day?
2nd question- Do you wear product? Do you want to wear product?
3rd question- How do you feel about the texture of your hair?
4th question- How much length do you want to lose?
5th question- Do you pull it back/up often? Do you want to?
6th question- Ad nauseum until we get to an understanding of what you do/don’t want, and whether or not we can get there given any limitations.
Clients beware! Sometimes you can’t have what you want the first go-around. It takes a little bit of growing into the shape and lengths you desire, but each cut will get you closer to what you want.
I have said this before, and I will say it again- Always quote the work before you begin. Let the client know, I charge $x amount for this service and this is what it includes. This cures the uneasiness the client may feel while you are doing their hair, and they can always choose not to have the service if they don’t have enough money with them.
Next up… Color consultation information.
Communication: This must be crystal in order to know what the client wants. Not only words, of course communication is a whole body experience. Touch their shoulder before you touch their head to reassure them of your grace, this establishes trust in contact. Look in their eyes so they know they have your attention, listen to their choice of words in describing what they want, and analyze where they are coming from. Ask the questions that feel natural for you to comprehend what they need from you, and give them an understanding of the limitations you have (whether it is time, training, or their hair is simply not going to do what they want). Let them know your rates for their request, offer alternatives to their service and pricing if you aren’t sure they are certain or dead-set on what they want. Have consistent pricing too. People hate going to the hairdresser and having the surprise ending- that she is now charging you more than she did before but forgot to tell you. I always quote the work before I begin. It’s the only way to be fair to both the client and yourself. Don’t just come up with something either, have a base and structure additionals consistently.
Make sure you are actually connecting with your client, tap into the way they understand the world, look at their hair from their perspective. Ask as many questions as necessary, in ways that speak to that person…
Every now and then I will have a client who says, “maybe I didn’t tell the last girl what I really wanted, because look at it, it’s______.” That undesirable trait may or may not be your idea of foul play, but it most certainly is according to the client (who is no longer patronizing the last hairdresser). Communicate clearly to avoid repeat offending. My response to this is almost always, “I am the professional here, it is MY responsibility to make sure I know what you want before we begin.” Don’t argue with a client about whether their hair is gold or not, accept how they see it and make sure you do it how you have agreed.
Additionally, it’s not enough to know what someone does want, you must know what they do not want.
For all the readers who are clients, this series of articles is a valuable tool for you too. Make sure the hairdresser doesn’t proceed until you are comfortable with the communication.
Stay tuned for the 2nd secret….