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Beauty Student Advice Beauty Tips — 09 December 2013

Being sick around the holidays is sad. Being sick and  at work around the holidays is a travesty. I’m stubborn., which means that I will be at work in sickness and in health, until death do we part (with a few exceptions). This time it was a virus, cold, flu, or some sick combination of all three (no pun intended). It made an appearance the week before Thanksgiving. The worst of it fell on one of my busiest days at the salon. I watched as my client’s stroked their hair protectively and asked “You are just getting over a little cold, right? “. The question seemed more like a suggestion, because while most of them are concerned for me, all of them are (with good reason) gauging my sickness and how it might effect their hair. This is how I didn’t answer:  “No, ma’am. I would like to believe that I am just getting over “a little cold“, but I am actually enjoying the climax of a great, big, massive cold- maybe even the plague. I’ve gone through so many tissues today that I might be singlehandedly responsible for the death of an entire forest, and for at least the next year, I will feel like a hypocrite every time I recycle. But, don’t worry ma’am, your hair will be fine.” Instead, I told them simply that I wasn’t sure exactly what I had, but that I was well enough to perform their service that day.

In the end, everyone's hair turned out well and I just made it through the day ….and i mean, JUST. So, do I promote working sick? Not exactly. I wouldn't suggest my brand of crazy to anyone else. And, as I said, even I have exceptions to my working-while-sick rule. I don't work sick if I feel that it will compromise the service I deliver to my clients. Ever. It is unfair to your clients and it will all end in tears…for both of you.

So, what epiphany did I have on my sick day that I thought was worthy of sharing? The experience got me thinking about how important our attitudes at work really are. Our clients know us, and as healthy as I have pretended to be at the salon during the past 2 weeks, I continuously hear this comment, "Wow, I can tell you are really sick. You aren't yourself at all." Each time, I slump my proverbial shoulders in defeat and search for ways to subtly reassure them that today their hair won't be negatively effected by my runny nose or pounding head.

What other emotions can our clients read from us? Frustration? Negativity? Anger? Sadness? How about, all of the above and more. I'm not calling you to be an emotional drone that maintains a deadpan demeanor all day long. We can be real people with real emotions who can harness them for the sake of others. This goes for work, and home, and all the moments in between. I've heard that we should leave our problems at the door when we come into work. "They will be there when you get back.", as the saying goes. It couldn't be more true that sometimes we need to lay our emotions down so that our clients can enjoy a positive experience in our salon. They are paying for a "full" service. Not simply a "cut and color", but a great environment, a polite and friendly conversation, AND a phenomenal service. For the time that they are in your charge, they should be made to feel like the only other person in the room.
You can convey this through:

  1. The way you talk to them: Keep the focus of conversation on them and their hair. Help to direct the conversation towards positive topics.
  2.  The way you listen to them: Focus on them. Don't let your mind wander to your future tasks, or past frustrations.
  3. The way you DON'T talk to others while you are with them: Conversations with your coworkers can almost always wait until later.

You can not choose whether you bring your sickness to work or leave it at home, but you can decide what attitude you allow to tag along for the day! I promise that your days will be filled with many more smiles this holiday season if you leave the baggage at the back door!

About Author

Leah Perlman
Leah Perlman

Leah is an Empire graduate who has been in the industry for 7 years. She has worked at The Bell Tower Salon and Spa in Wyomissing, PA for 6 years . She serves on the salon's education team and is involved in planning and educating for their stylists-in-training program.

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