At some point in your hairstylist life, you will have a situation that requires
overcoming the language barrier. This does not happen very often, but every now and then there is a “situation”. Most times you can probably figure it out because both sides want to have a successful outcome, but when this happens, you realize why humans got rid of the barter system.
I have a few clients that spoke no english when we first met and at the time I spoke zero French. To communicate we used a lot of “oui” and “no” and multiple hand movements. Then we went for magazines and did a lot of pointing and shaking heads. The only time we had a few challenges was with time. The French 24-hour clock takes some getting used to and sometimes, like recently, I mix up my days of the week.
For the most part, I find people are open to the challenge of overcoming the language barrier so here are a few ways to get through it:
- I always get a picture just to be safe because this saves on talking a thousand words. The client always has a definite picture in their mind and you better be clear before you go ahead.
- There is now google translate! I use it mostly in emails but also when I have to get a specific point across.
- Be very careful that you are speaking about the same date and time. You will understand when they turn up on a day you are fully booked.
- If it is a chemical service, find the right translation because they may use the same word in their language to mean something else.
- Some people are more relaxed with times when it comes to certain services like hair, spas, dinners and parties. It is not that they are being disrespectful, culturally some events in their country are time flexible. They have not learned all the norms in this country so try not to take offense but stress being on time for the next appointment.
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When you move to another country or learn another language, it is easy for you to think that you are overcoming the language barrier, but you should still be open to learning or you may miss something important.
By Paula Barker, Silkie Locks Hair Design