Make the Cut with Effective Communication

Make the Cut with Effective Communication

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It’s every woman’s worst nightmare. You see the horrified looks of discontent on makeover shows as the chair spins to face the mirror like a couple of gunslingers from the Wild West. Stories are told around pedicure stations that give you goose bumps. Perhaps you have even experienced the agony of defeat. It’s (insert scary music soundtrack) the bad haircut!

A bad ‚”do” can send a female into emotional distress worthy of medication and perhaps a padded room. To top off your already bad, well, top, you have to look the person in the eye who ruined your life for at least two months and pay them for their destruction.

On the flip side, it is important for you to take control and tell the stylist what you want. But for some, the courage to speak up is hard to find and in the end all you can do is chalk it up to lack of communication. With good faith in my hairdresser, I went straight to her to pick her mind 0708DEGROOT_FASHION.gif(not my hair) and get the inside scoop from someone whose livelihood relies on our happiness.
Form a Bond
Gretchen Schaeper, who has handled my locks since my first haircut, has been in the business for 29 years. Her station at JW Salon is like a therapist’s chair — you can get your hair cut and have a talk session, all for one price. With a faithful following, she has known many of her clients for years. We can become emotionally attached to our hair, so it helps to form a bond with your stylist. “Building a relationship happens over time just like any other relationship. Hairdressers learn through time how the client is and things they like or dislike,” says Schaeper. Being able to trust your stylist helps keep honest feelings on the table. “Because I have known my clients for a long time, I would think they would feel they could tell me [their true feelings].”

Open Up
What many women tend to do is hold in their feelings as they quietly cringe with each snip. If you are sitting there watching hair fly around you and your stomach starts turning, say something! “People [who] hold their feelings are usually people [who] are shy and can’t express themselves. That’s the hairdresser’s job to talk and work with them.”

0208GIBBERMAN.gif Stylists know to ask questions, but if you cannot speak up, then all efforts for communication go out the salon door. Schaeper says, “We ask questions to try to make everyone happy, but sometimes people have trouble relaying the right thing.” A good stylist knows the questions to ask and is not offended if you don’t like their suggestions. Be honest and up front so it makes you happy — you are the one that has to live with the style.

Be Realistic
One of the worst things a woman can do is walk in with a magazine, say “I want to look like that,” and expect a mirrored image. If you are ever watched “America’s Next Top Model,” you know that it takes hours and gallons of hairspray to attain the magazine-worthy look. Also remember that not every hair type is the same. Thickness, length and the dreaded cowlick are just a few factors in why your hair won’t turn out like Jennifer Aniston. Then take into consideration your facial features and your skin tone. Schaeper says, “A picture is wonderful, but they need to be realistic. Again, communication is important.”

Tips to Get What You Want
If you want to have that va-va-voom hair that turns heads, try some of these tips when getting your look:


  1. Schaeper suggests, “Don’t hairdresser hop. Give your hairdresser time to understand your needs.” In other words, if you go from hairdresser to hairdresser, you may never be happy.
  2. When looking for a new hairdresser, get referrals by the people whose hair you like. Opening up the phone book and just picking a stylist close to you can be a big mistake.
  3. Money plays a factor. Under-priced quickies can leave you with a less desirable do, just as an expensive high cost style can leave you less than impressed. Just because the salon “seems nice” or is top of the line doesn’t mean that the stylists there can give you what you want.
  4. Avoid having a style done by someone who is available at the time. Walk-ins are great if you aren’t attached to your locks, but more than likely you will regret having a stranger put the life of your hair in their hands.
  5. Just say what you want. “We are people,” says Schaeper. They aren’t our boss or significant other, so try not to feel suppressed under a power trip.
  6. If you are looking for a change in style, tell your hairdresser what you are thinking ahead of time. They are trained and educated to know what works for all hair types. Call and ask when you can stop by and discuss what want. They might be able to talk you out of a huge disaster.
  7. Be honest about your hair history when sitting with a new stylist. While they are trained to know what damaged, colored, permed, or processed hair looks like, they can only take your word for it in the end. Know how long it’s been since your last “treatment” and what was done.

Open communication really is important, not just for you, but for the stylist to be able to do their job. Remember that hair only grows on average a half inch per month. It can take longer to get over a bad hairstyle than a bad relationship!


Photo: Neysa Ruhl Photography
Location: The McAlpin
Models (left to right): Allison Roth and Linda Bonita Stricker Palacios