As any beauty therapist or long-standing hairdresser knows, small talk is one of the tricks of the trade. Certain questions will ring in your head after the workday. “Are you going anywhere nice on holiday?” is almost a mantra at this stage!
But not everyone is keen on small talk. While Mary from up the road might be happy to tell you everything about her entire life, other clients won’t be so keen. Some salons are even introducing ‘quiet chairs’ for clients who’d rather browse a magazine than have a chat.
Regardless of the chattiness of your client, there are some conversations you just can’t have. You don’t want to inadvertently drop a clanger so bad that a client wants to make a bee-line for the door mid bikini wax – and it’s even worse if they’re a new customer and your choice of topic means they won’t be coming back.
So just what are the absolute no-goes for small talk?
1. Slagging and moaning
Even if the client brings up the shocking state of their nails after their manicure from that salon across the street, it’s your job to be professional and deflect to a safer topic. Same goes for you: no moaning about your boss, colleagues, or anything too personal!
2. Financial woes
Every good therapist or stylist knows that respecting a client’s space and understanding their body language is integral to keeping a customer happy – and even if you’re friendly with your client or you’re in the middle of a natter, work is never the place to bring up financial problems.
You never know who’s listening and someone else in the salon could have it worse off, so keep any money grumblings for a cuppa with your work bestie instead.
3. Gossip that might cause trouble
If your client is a friend of a friend, someone you sort of know, or even if you’ve gotten to know them over the span of their appointments with you, you might be tempted to start sharing gossip about mutual acquaintances.
Friendly gossip is fine but be very careful if you start touching on anything that could start a rumour as that’s dangerous territory.
You might have had a blazing row with your other half, but does your client really need to know that your fella always leaves sopping towels on the bathroom floor? Likewise, if your client is on a ten-minute rant about their life and you’re starting to feel uncomfortable, you can gently move onto a different topic.
If the client is taking the ‘therapist’ in your job title a bit too literally, drop in some advice on beauty or hair care and try and steer the conversation back to a safer topic.
5. The state of the client’s hair/nails/unmentionables
This one applies to hairdressers in particular! It’s happened to the best of us: you’re stood behind a quiet client, cutting away, and sentences like ‘wow you’ve got so much hair’ and ‘do you manage it yourself?’ start slipping out.
Sure, one person might appreciate the recommendation of an eye cream for the bags under their eyes, but another might not be quite so chuffed with the unsolicited advice! Just imagine how you’d feel if a client passed a comment about your uniform or the way you did your hair this morning!
If you’re unlucky and your client hasn’t washed their hair for three weeks or there seems to be something growing between their toes, you’re just going to have to put your head down and get the job done!
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P.S.: What’s the most awkward conversation you’ve ever had with a client? Let us know in the comments!