(Common communication barriers between stylists and clients)
This is a part of an ongoing series designed to improve client-hairstylist communication.
Maybe you’re at a crossroads. Maybe you’re meeting a stylist for the first time, and you feel the nerves setting in. Or maybe you’ve met your stylist, and you don’t love your hair… but you don’t want to complain.
We’ve all been there at one time or another, so the question isn’t, “has this happened to you?” but more so, “what do you do?”
As a hairstylist, I know better than anyone else how good communication between a stylist and client can change the outcome of a transformation… and vice versa. Today, I want to share a few tips on how to navigate those difficult conversations, so everyone walks away happy. Or at least as close to it as possible.
Truthfully, guaranteed happiness is pretty much impossible, but I believe that the key to success lies in controlling the factors you can control. When it comes to stylists and clients, one thing is certain: both parties can and should work on open, honest and positive communication.
Are you with me? Good, let’s chat.
Musings of a hairstylist
First of all, as a hairstylist, I have to accept that there will be times where I’ll inevitably work with people who will never be happy, no matter how hard I try. I’ve learned over the years that this has nothing to do with my work, or even me - and it never will be.
If you’ve found yourself traveling from hairstylist to hairstylist over the years, and can’t seem to find someone to do things the right way, it’s possible that there is something lacking in communication, and the consultative process of your appointment. You might be asking for something that doesn’t suit your hair type, or maybe you’ve had the unlucky circumstance of working with hairstylists who won’t honestly say, “that’s not my specialty,” or “I don’t think that’s going to work for you before of these reasons.” In my experience, this is generally the case. As stylists, it’s important that we own, openly and honestly, what we do well, what we can do, and what we shouldn’t do. As clients, it’s important to be open to that feedback, and listen to the expertise of the stylist.
Now, there is another possibility: maybe the work that needs to be done, is actually on the inside. Maybe you can’t see how beautiful your hair is, because you’re stuck staring at the one imperfection you see, that no one else sees. We tend to be the harshest critics of ourselves, and because of that, our mindset can completely warp our view of reality. It helps to ask your closest friends or family members that you trust for their honest feedback, too. Ask those in your life that are positive and uplifting for feedback on your current or past hairstyles. That process alone can provide a ton of helpful insight, and keep you from seeing yourself in only a negative light.
Listen - as much as I love when my clients tell me I work “magic,” or am a miracle worker, I can only do so much! So please remember this: us hairstylists are just trying to find the right balance between what you’re asking for, and what is really going to look good on you.
Meeting a new stylist
Phew! Now that all of that is said and done, let’s dive into the communication process behind meeting a new stylist, and how to make that experience more enjoyable for you.
Take a deep breath. Remember, this current stylist is not the same person who gave you a horrible bowl cut back when you were in the 3rd grade. Please do share that story and experience with that thought, so we can make sure we are communicating well with you through the process (like how much we’re cutting off, where we’ll be cutting, and how to style).
Ask questions. Ask questions that’ll make your day to day life easier. Things like, “how do I style this straight? How do I style this curly?” can completely change your satisfaction with a cut or color! Even if you want to get really granular and learn about the difference between cutting with shears, and cutting with a razor, we’re here to answer those questions, and put your mind at ease.
Take mental (or physical) notes of our advice and feedback. Look, I can get super nerdy about all things hair, and what I would recommend you do with it. Throughout your visit with me, you’ll hear me make recommendations as I’m cutting and coloring, so that when you get home, your life is easier. I’ll customize my styling and product recommendations around the desired outcome you shared, so it’s in your best interest to pay attention! Engage in the conversation so that your stylist can make sure they’re on the right track, and make recommendations that are helpful to you.
There you have it! As a starter, this should get you through those initial, and sometimes difficult, conversations that can take place with a new stylist or transformation. My next installment in this series will cover the topic of, “maybe you don’t love your hair, but you don’t want to complain.” Keep an eye out for that one, or make sure to join my email list so you’re the first to know!