Now that I have been out of hairstyling school for a while, 

I feel the teachers neglect to give intense training in one huge topic:  mastering the art of conversation.   I should call this post “Thing They Don’t Teach You in Hairstyling School” but that would be untrue.  They tell you but who listens when you are worried your finger wave is falling apart?  Sure, you may have learned the skills to make someone look better than they came in, but to keep that client, you need style, character and the ability to talk with people.  I am not suggesting that you will learn them right away, these things come with time but in the end, mastering the art of conversation can keep them coming back.

How many times have you heard horror stories from people who visited a hair salon?

I lost count.  Most of the issues could have been avoided if they had a useful conversation.  I cannot count the amount of times if I  had not asked many questions, I would not have discovered what the client really wanted.  Here are a few instances:

  • Depending on the country or slang a person speaks, certain terms mean different things.  For example, in some countries, a “conditioning” means having a relaxer done.  For others, “conditioning” means applying a deep conditioner with heat to treat dry hair.  
  • People in Canada say they want a “perm” . What they are asking for is a relaxer.  A stylist not familiar with this would give them a curly permanent and have them looking like the 80s Jheri curl.
  • Clients sometimes say they want to “cut a few inches off”.  A smart stylist (me) goes and gets the cutting comb and measures it against their hair, and says “this much?”  Usually, “a few inches” turns out to be 1 mm!
  • Many clients do not understand that a short haircut cannot be done without them losing many inches of hair.  Some will look at a pixie cut and say “I want that but I cannot cut my hair because my husband does not like short hair.  Can we do it without cutting anything???    
  •  Sometimes clients sit in your chair for the whole session and stick their heads in a book or a magazine.  After a couple of attempts to engage them in conversation, I leave them alone.  Sometimes, being quiet is also mastering the art of conversation.  You would be surprised how happy the client is to have a quiet time after a hectic day.
  • I am always careful to speak in depth with clients, usually ladies, who suddenly want a super short haircut.  If you know the stats, this usually follows a breakup.  Try to get her to come back next week.   It is good money, but when she wakes up tomorrow, you could lose a client. 
Call (613) 789-2179 For An Appointment If You Are In The Ottawa, Ontario Area.
I could keep going why a great hairstylist is good at mastering the art of conversation, but that would be my next  book.  In one of my next blogs I will revisit this topic as there are so many reasons why you too should be mastering the art of conversation.

By Paula Barker, Silkie Locks Hair Design

Buy my e-book:  Dreadlocks:  A Hairstyiist’s Manifest.