Raise your hand if you're sick and tired of talking about coronavirus. We all have a threshold for how much of the "C" word we can take—in a day, in a week, in a year, and in a lifetime. Working behind the chair, you're not only working with your hands all day long, you're also working with your mouth and ears. You're carrying on conversations with your clients about anything and everything they bring up. But when everybody's got the same thing on their minds, it can make maintaining positive energy, day after day, client after client, nearly impossible.
In an effort to support our community's mental health, Sola's Culture Ambassador and first Sola professional, Kim Bennett, had a powerful conversation on the Sola Stories Podcast with licensed psychologist, Dr. Allan Ribbler. In this episode, Your Mental Health Matters, Dr. Ribbler and Kim share valuable tips to recognize when you've had enough COVID talk and how to redirect the conversation to maintain an uplifting, positive salon environment.
We've also put together some tips to help you navigate the tumultuous waters of our current COVID climate below. (Please note, these tips work with any unwanted topic of conversation—be it personal, political, global, etc.).
Tip #1: Set a COVID limit. Creating boundaries is all about making realistic agreements with yourself and sticking to them. Let's face it, the topic of COVID-19 is pretty unavoidable. It's impacted nearly every aspect of how we think and live our lives. So, it would be unrealistic to decide you will talk about it with 0 people for 0 minutes each day. Truly ask yourself, what percentage of your day can you handle talking about it? How many clients? How many minutes?
Once you've decided your threshold, write it down. As soon as you've reached your COVID limit for the appointment and/or day, redirect the conversation using one of our tips below.
Tip #2: Create the energy YOU want in your space. Your salon is your safe space. It's meant to inspire you to dream bigger and hold space for you to make magic. Just like you choose your schedule, music, wall color and services, in YOUR studio, you also get to choose your vibe. Be intentional about the energy you want to cultivate for your customers. Make your vibe a part of your brand. Use decor with words that remind your guests of the energy you've created. Is your space magical, inspiring, comforting, safe, kind? When you're flying at a certain vibration, the conversations you have will naturally flow in that direction.
Tip #3: Focus on their service. While many beauty professionals pride themselves on their ability to be "hairapists"—or as Kimi Bennett refers to herself as, a "hear-stylist,"—at the end of the day, your clients are in your chair to get a service. You are the expert in your field, so as much as you can, focus their experience on their service! Talk to them about what you are doing and why you are doing it. Talk about the products you are using, which could lead to increased retail sales. Tell them about the virtual education classes you've been taking and offer some add-on treatments. The more you center your customer experience around their actual salon experience, the less opportunities they'll have to direct the conversation to energy-draining topics.
Tip #4: Have positive, funny, uplifting stories in your back pocket. A Rolodex of positive stories can help redirect any negative vibe. If humor is your thing, research some great jokes or watch a funny movie or stand-up comedy special with hilarious quotes that you can recite. Read some juicy Buzzfeed articles about a topic you know will be a hit with your clients and keep their mouths and minds occupied. If you have a pet or baby in the family, make a folder of adorable pictures and videos that you can show when you feel the energy slipping. If you love inspiring people, jot down some powerful quotes or passages from some of your favorite books or podcasts. If your client is a podcast junkie, offer to put on a captivating podcast episode that has them on the edge of their seat. Creating a back pocket list can not only help you in moments of conversational crisis, but also gets your mindset on a positive wavelength, which makes bringing your energy down much more difficult.
Create an epic, upbeat playlist. Music is a universal language, and nothing can set the tone of a space quite like a good playlist. You know your clientele and what will get them rocking in their seat. Put on some oldies or Country classics that they can't help belting the words to.
Be honest and authentic. Your relationship with your clients depends on open, honest communication. Your clients trust you to listen to their wants and needs, and you expect your clients to be honest with you so you can provide them the best experience possible. Your clients expect you to be honest and authentic with them, too. If you've had enough COVID talk for the day, and you feel the conversation coming up, feel free to say something like, "I work really hard to create a positive environment when you're in my salon and this topic really drains my energy. Because I want to give you the best experience possible, do you mind if we talk about something else? (Insert change of topic here: Did you hear Keeping Up With The Kardashians is going off the air? Are you in any fantasy football drafts this year? Planning anything for the holidays?"