The Beauty Beat
Top 5 tips to politely avoid or navigate political discussions with clients
By Allison Barfield
The summer of 2020 will be one you tell your grandchildren about. So many things happened this year—socially and politically—and it’s almost impossible to not get wrapped up in it to some degree.
Just like all the other frequent-flyer topics out there (jobs, family, kids, travel plans, etc.), the subject of politics is likely going to come up behind the chair sooner or later. How are you supposed to handle it in a professional manner?
Choosing to never speak on politics is definitely a choice. I can hear my grandmother’s voice now in my head: “Good girls never discuss politics or religion.” Yet, that feels a bit antiquated to me.
This is an important time to be having these types of discussions. When handled in a sensitive manner, it can lead to growth and expanded horizons. And clients love to talk about what’s on their mind. But it’s important to keep in mind when, where, and who these conversations are appropriate with.
If a political subject arises while a client is in your chair, I find that these tips are helpful:
- Constantly take the “temperature” of the room
- Let your client speak first
- Never talk over your client
- Always pay attention to your personal volume, as well as the volume of your client’s voice
- Keep your conversations between you and your client out of respect to other stylists and their client
If my client expresses an opinion I happen to disagree with, I typically let it slide off my back. Maybe add a harmless joke if I know the client well enough. But if they happen to say something I wildly disagree with, I have some decisions to make.
Is this a hill I want to die on? I would never have an argument on the salon floor, that goes without saying. But if a client said or believed something that was egregious to me, am I willing to let that client slide? Do I really want to have the internal battle with myself over what’s more important—making a living or making sure my personal morals are upheld?
The more I think about it, the more I believe it’s simply better to not have deep, political discussions with clients.
Find a nice way to cut the client short and divert the conversation in a way that does not provoke or encourage further and deeper discussion. Then you won’t have to worry about the “temperature” of the room. You won’t have to speak in hushed tones, staying under the radar because the conversation is subjectively controversial.
After the non-stop struggles that define 2020, I think we should keep it light in the salon, even when others (including clients) only want to talk about COVID-19 or the upcoming election. You can keep the “ignorance is bliss” mentality and provide a much-needed mental escape for your clients. There are plenty of other spaces out there for voices to be heard on issues you care about. I just decided that the salon is not one of them. I guess I’m a good girl after all.