Part one of three. Effective and honest communication is an essential ingredient to every successful relationship we have in our lives, whether personal or professional. Neglected or broken-down communication is largely the reason we as humans find ourselves in challenging situations with those we regularly engage with or care about. The effects of poor communication are unfortunately demonstrated quite profoundly and painfully at the hair salon. Most women relate to their appearance, particularly their hair, with a profound psychological and emotional connection. Therefore, it is absolutely vital for a hairdresser to develop and maintain quality communication skills in order to establish and promote a productive client relationship.
On the onset of the booking, a hairdresser or client will commonly default to a position of stating either, "what do you want" or "whatever you think." Both of these examples are concerning. Neither attempts to start a conversation, but rather dumps the responsibility of what is about to take place onto the other individual. I use the example of a first date when speaking with new clients on the importance of communication and consultancy. One would rarely sit back in that situation and take a carefree 'have at it' approach. It would be much more beneficial for each person to ask lots of questions which help to establish discovery and define boundaries with concise clarity. To be fair, a woman likely goes to a salon with the hopes of professional advice and might not feel confident or knowledgeable in discussing their appearance in specific detail.
To that point, a hairdresser should also always insist on thorough consultancy, even if a client isn't sure how to proceed. It is up to the hairdresser to meet each client on a level which can support the exchange of information with them. Too, a client should always be interested in and willing to discuss, even with a well established and respected hairdresser, their needs and desires. It is an essential part of hairdresser development to master the art of communication, particularly with regard to the diverse individuals we meet. Failure to establish effective communication significantly increases the chance for misunderstanding and with that, less than satisfying results. These skills take time, desire, and a decidedly conscious effort to develop. Unfortunately, effective communication and thorough consultancy are not at all stressed within the hairdressing industry.
Throughout my life, I've regularly seen other practitioners whether they be physiotherapists, acupuncturists, psychologists or osteopaths. Each time they demonstrated a level of interest, care, and thoroughness in regards to their communication with me. Their consultation process contributed greatly, if not entirely, to the development and implementation of that area of my practice. Establishing a space which can support open and honest communication is so important and is the reason for an independent solo practice. A supportive space too provides the means to engage with each individual in a way which best supports their needs from visit to visit. It definitely takes effort from both client and hairdresser, but with effective and collaborative communication the chance of an enduring relationship and ultimately satisfying results is much greater.
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