Behind the chair we are asked to deliver a lot for people. We are asked to create magic in haircuts. We are expected to know about products and their uses. One of the most important expectations of our clients is that we listen. Not just to haircut hopes and dreams, but really listen. There are many people who need to talk. Many long to be heard. We are in a unique position with clients. We have an uninterrupted block of people’s time. This is the kind of time and attention few people pay to others much anymore. This is a great argument for banning cell phones from hair salons and barbershop. I could make just that appeal here and be done with this posting. Encouraging people to connect with us and with others can be a noble purpose of barbershop and salon time even before we snip any hair.
With this type of connection in mind and with the importance this connection holds, perhaps now more than ever I offer up my tip 5 tips for listening behind the chair.
1. Ask questions and then be quiet – Give people the time to respond and go deep. Some will not take up the opportunity. It is awkward and uncommon in their daily life. Others will step into the question and lean in hard with you. Allow them to do that.
2. Really listen – Listen to hear. Do not listen to reply. Do not listen to offer a comeback or a one-up. Just really listen and hear what they choose to share.
3. Don’t swing at all the pitches – You have to listen, but you need not reply to everything. You need not always take the bait. Nodding and saying uh-huh acknowledges a comment but can avoid heading down a rabbit hole on a subject you are better off to avoid. This might be a good policy for comments on politics no matter which side of the comment your personal opinion falls on.
4. Ask follow-up questions – You can tell when a client needs/wants to talk about something. You can feel it. You can hear it in the way they present the topic. When the client needs you to be there for them step into that role. Avoid offering opinions on the subject they are addressing. Even skirt the issue a bit when asked directly. Turn it back to them and their perspective. You cannot win an argument with a client. You only win every time they come back to give you more money.
5. Get paid to listen – if all you charge for is the haircut you are selling yourself short. You are only asking for payment for one of your skills. Listening is a skill. Listening well is a high-level skill. High level-skills come at a price. Be sure your haircut price includes a listening fee. I would not have it on the menu but I would surely be collecting it every haircut.
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