As a stylist, esthetician, barber or salon owner, you are always on your feet and using your hands, which probably causes you a lot of physical pain and fatigue. Whether you’re running around looking for hair salon supplies or cleaning up your station, working in a salon requires a lot of physical work. However, there is also a different kind of fatigue and labor that can exhaust people like barbers and stylists. With every client you take, you’re not only doing their hair and multitasking, but you’re most likely also performing a lot of emotional labor. Emotional labor is the process of managing feelings and emotions — whether it be your own or the emotions of others.
Whether your clients are updating you on their life — good or bad — or venting to you, being someone your clients trust could put you in a spot where you experience conversation fatigue from having to process so many emotions and information at once.
Especially after the past year, everyone’s lives have been drastically altered because of COVID-19. As a stylist or esthetician, you are starting to see your regular clients more consistently. After a year apart, your clients probably have so much to update you about. And it’s not their fault — the average time a client spends at the salon is anywhere from an hour to more than two hours, which means long, in-depth conversations are going to occur.
However, there are ways stylists can avoid conversation fatigue and shield their inner peace. Before we share some of the techniques to limiting conversation fatigue, let’s identify the characteristics of fatigue to help you determine if you’re currently or have previously suffered through such.
What Does Conversation Fatigue Look Like?
In order to stop conversation fatigue, it’s important to understand what it looks like and how it may be affecting you. Have you experienced any of the following feelings? If so, read on for more information on how to lessen conversation fatigue.
- Lack of interest in clients/zoning out while a client is talking
- Extreme exhaustion
- Dreading work
- Constantly feeling annoyed
How to Prevent Conversation Fatigue
If you have found yourself feeling any of the emotions above, you may be experiencing conversation fatigue at work. But don’t worry – we are going to share some techniques with you that will help you feel more balanced and allow you to establish healthy boundaries with your clients.
- Create a Positive Atmosphere at Your Styling Station – What is the atmosphere like at your salon or at your styling station right now? Do you have upbeat music playing and cute decor that puts both you and your clients into an upbeat and relaxed mood? If not, it may be time to create a playlist full of upbeat or relaxing tunes. You can also decorate your styling station with positive affirmations or cute decorations, which can also be great conversation starters.
- Talk Through the Service and Products – If you need a quick conversation starter or a way to change the topic, you can always talk through the service you are performing, as well as the professional hair care products you’re using. Clients are always looking for the inside scoop and always seem to be fascinated with more information about their hair or skin. If you’re using special hair salon supplies that have a cool backstory or are a conversation starter themselves, you can rely on these tools to steer the conversation in a direction you feel comfortable with.
- Set Boundaries Throughout the Appointment – While this may be easier said than done, if you find that your clients are constantly oversharing with you, you can either draw a boundary at the beginning of the appointment or during if the conversations get too heavy. But, of course, you don’t want your clients to think that you don’t care about them. A great way to do this is by starting the appointment letting your client know that you want to create a positive space for them, and in order to do so, you keep talking about personal problems or issues down to a five-minute window.
- Set Time for Healthy Venting — Setting boundaries may seem harsh, but it’s very thoughtful of you to make time for these discussions to happen, and it also reminds clients that you’re a human with feelings, too. If you don’t feel comfortable starting your sessions out with this, but your client begins to overshare or burden you with information, you can lead them through a venting exercise. Let your client know that you sense she is frustrated and that you’d like to hold space for her for five minutes. During this time, she can vent it out, but after the five minutes is up, you will both step out of the negativity and into a more positive outlook.
- Have Positive Questions and Conversation Starters on Hand – People love to talk about themselves, and you can use this to your advantage if you’re trying to create a more positive dialogue and take a rest from talking. Have a list of questions or ice breakers that you like to ask people on hand so that you can surprise your guests with thoughtful prompts that create positive dialogue. Some questions that are great are, “How do you plan to celebrate your day?” or “What was the funniest joke you recently heard?”
- Get Vulnerable and Honest with Clients – At the end of the day, we are all human. We all want to be seen and heard, and most people want to brighten up each other’s days. If you find that conversation is affecting your mental health and you don’t want to do conversation or boundary olympics to get over it, it may be best to just be straight with clients. You could try saying something like, “I am so sorry. I understand you’re going through a difficult time, and I hear you. I am not in the best place to hold space for you right now, though. Do you mind if we change the topic or discuss something more positive?” Honesty is always the best policy, especially if you have a client who may not have taken any cues from the techniques above.
It’s important to keep your peace as a stylist, especially because you have someone’s hair in your hands! But in all seriousness, you deserve to work in an environment where you feel comforted and positive. Use these tips to stay sharp and keep conversation on the right track during your next appointment.
You may also like: Six Tips for Better Communication with Clients