The Emotional Connection

By AHP Staff

Our work as hairdressers and barbers is built on emotional connections. Our clients’ emotions are involved from the first moment they walk through the salon door. This is a daily reality, so we need to be cautious to stay safe in our professional relationships and communications without being overcome by emotions. 

Salon work has a powerful emotional nature. Consider this:  

  • We chose the hair profession to provide beauty services because we have a caring nature and a desire to help make our clients’ lives better. 
  • Clients are placed in a vulnerable situation when receiving touch, personal care, and grooming services from a virtual stranger. 
  • After the initial vulnerability is overcome, the personal, one-on-one nature of hair services allows clients to feel safe with a trusted person. 
  • People have an inherent need to be listened to without personal bias, and your clients will tend to open up with personal issues during your service. 
  • Most services we provide, such as a cut and color, often take an hour or more, which heightens the impact of all the factors mentioned above. 
  • The emotional bond is even stronger for regular clients who book frequent appointments and have been coming to you for years.

Unfortunately, cosmetology schools don’t generally teach how to navigate healthy, intelligent relationships in an emotion-filled environment. This important skill can affect your business success. 

Setting Boundaries 

As hairdressers and barbers, we are often entrusted with sensitive personal information about the issues in our clients’ lives. It is easy to unintentionally blur the boundaries of how much we in turn should share with our clients. Always remember that you are the professional and need to refrain from sharing too much personal information.

The emotional intimacy of the salon is a space for clients that demands personal discretion and professional integrity from you. Both newcomers to the hair industry and seasoned professionals need to carefully navigate this space. Use healthy, mindful, and respectful forms of communication, while keeping professional and ethical boundaries in mind.  

Considerations and Precautions

Dale Carnegie said, “When dealing with people, let us remember we are not dealing with creatures of logic. We are dealing with creatures of emotion.” 

We all handle interpersonal relationships, communication, and boundaries in our personal lives, and doing so in a business setting is not so different. Yet, there are several key factors hairstylists should keep in mind. 

  • If you have a client with intense emotional issues that may require professional help, refer out. You may even have to discontinue the service if you’re feeling uncomfortable. Most clients love having someone listen to them talk, but in certain situations, the simple act of listening can have negative implications. You don’t want to be tempted to be a counselor, which is outside your scope of practice. You also don’t want to overshare deeply personal information that may change the dynamic between you and the client.  
  • We’ve all experienced an uncomfortable dynamic with a client at one time or other. There are some definite red flags no matter who initiates the communication: sexual advances, gossip, negativity, and sharing others’ confidences. Trust your gut and stay safe. Not everyone out there is safe to listen to or share with. 
  • Remember to put business first. While we might consider our clients friends, it is your job to stay in your professional role by guiding conversations in directions that are appropriate to the setting and situation. This can protect both your livelihood and your brand. 

Hairdresser with his clientConnection and Community  

We see many benefits when we develop a relationship with a client over time. Our clients develop trust and loyalty, and we are better able to serve the client when we are more familiar with them. We can also enjoy great personal satisfaction in providing a safe, caring, and nurturing place where people can escape from stress.

Our clients are looking for a sense of connection, community, and caring that goes beyond the services we offer. We are uniquely positioned to offer our guests a respite from physical and emotional stress through safe and nurturing touch, a listening ear, and a place to connect and heal. And when we do, we’ll enjoy the heart-to-heart connection that will make our clients loyal for life.


How can I best deal with an emotional client?

  • Keep your cool . . . always.
  • Acknowledge their feelings.
  • Wait for the calm.
  • Practice active listening.
  • Find common ground.
  • Establish control with facts.
  • Try to stop potential problems before they start.

How can I help my client when they get overly emotional?

Let them know you want to understand how they feel. Don’t say you know how they feel if you don’t. Let them know it’s okay to express emotion, but don’t try to combat their emotions with logic. You may just need to step aside for a minute and allow them time to take a few calming breaths to get their emotions under control.

What is meant by professional boundaries?

Professional boundaries are the legal, ethical and organizational framework that protects both clients and workers from physical and emotional harm and helps maintain a safe working environment. They are based on your beliefs, thoughts, feelings, decisions, choices, wants, needs, and intuitions.


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