You may find it hard to believe, but most of us do actually care where our clients go on holiday. By nature we’re a gregarious breed and naturally nosey, plus we tend to subconsciously develop our clientele in a "like attracts like" capacity therefore common interests are a great topic. So when we ask you about holidays, we’re not just being polite, we really do want to know everything – where are you going, what are you going to do, when are you off and who are you going with?
"Many hairdressers also like to talk about themselves, but the client tends to steer the conversation, or at least gives us an idea of what might be off limits."
But that’s not to say that’s our only area of interest. We talk about a whole range of topics and often there are no boundaries – from what a client is making for dinner, to the lover, the cheating partner, the divorce, the partying, the swinging, the studying, the career, the lifestyle, the bills, the misery, the fulfilled, the unfulfilled, the happiness, the grief, the loss (in every conceivable way).
Many hairdressers also like to talk about themselves, but the client tends to steer the conversation, or at least gives us an idea of what might be off limits. But at the end of the day, everyone whether they’re male or female loves a good bit of gossip.
As I said I talk about different things depending on the client but personally I have a strong interest in the psychological aspects of my work, so how people act and their body language. By nature I'm instinctive and quite analytical, combine that with 35 years of hairdressing and I can generally ascertain within the first five minutes of greeting someone whether the issue is about their hair or possibly personal. That immediately defines where I go with the hair cut and equally the conversation.
I also love dry humour and a good meaty conversation, whether that’s political, religious or about someone’s personal problems. Most clients will often use their hairstylist as a sounding board, confidant and counsellor. Due to the intimacy of the work space people tend to divulge everything and anything. I tend to both talk and listen depending on the topic in hand. But I always have a sense of empathy and allow the natural flow of conversation, if the client needs to release issues of a personal nature then patience is paramount.
"I also love dry humour and a good meaty conversation, whether that’s political, religious or about someone’s personal problems. Most clients will often use their hairstylist as a sounding board, confidant and counsellor."
So what wouldn’t I talk about? Basically anything the client hasn’t embarked on. You wait for the signs and signals that it's okay to ask the relative questions once they’ve started a conversation by judging their tone of voice, body language and eye contact.
But religion and politics are the ones to avoid. To be faced with extreme political or religious views can be extremely hard and calls for a strong need to compartmentalise.
Having said all this, it's always easier to cut hair when the client is not talking. When clients speak they tend to move subconsciously, they move their heads up and down, move their arms or cross their legs. Ultimately it takes longer as you have to keep stopping the conversation and getting them to sit still. Or we both embark on in-depth conversation and I get myself behind. But I love a bloody good conversation.