Tag Archives: communication

Beauty Salon Blues

Years ago when I first started to get my hair cut and colored and my nails manicured or artificial nails put on, an appointment at the beauty salon was an experience where I always felt pampered and special. Am I being old fashioned in thinking that’s still true, or should be?

Almost a month ago, I set up an appointment at a new salon to have a cut and color done on my shoulder-plus-length, medium brown hair. I had researched salons in my area and was impressed by an ad I’d seen in which the owner had expressed how professional she and her staff were and how her salon was a dream come true for her. That sounded good to me, so I set up an appointment with (we’ll call her), Breanna.

I did my due-diligence rounding up photos of favorite styles and examples of color that I liked so I could better explain to my new hair dresser the results I was expecting. Since the examples I selected were actual photos of me, I knew it was possible to cut and color my hair to look like those photos. And I was being realistic in knowing the results I’d see in the mirror would include the wrinkles I now wear, as opposed to some of the early photo examples, sans wrinkles.

Beauty day arrived and I was excited and very much looking forward to meeting and learning about my new hairdresser and explaining to her what I wanted done to accomplish my spiffed-up look, and also to getting my head massaged during the shampooing portion of the appointment. I think just about everybody loves that part!

I arrived a few minutes ahead of schedule and Breanna, a twenty-something girl, came forward and led me to her chair. When she asked what I wanted I showed her the folder of photos and explained that as far as cut was concerned, I’d like a page boy that curled under with a length just below my chin but above my shoulder. She looked at me with a blank look and then pulled out her comb and scissors and started cutting my hair with it dry. Other hair dressers had always cut my hair when it was wet, especially since I have some natural curl, but I‘m not the expert so I didn’t say anything.

After cutting my hair she went to get the color chart. She picked out three reddish samples and I selected a medium reddish-brown that had very definite warm, reddish highlights. She mixed the color, applied it, set a timer and went and sat down and started looking at her cell phone. The owner of the salon (about the same age) was in another chair and they spoke to one another and pointed out things on their phones to each other and ignored me.

Just about the time I was feeling totally neglected, the timer went off, I was directed to the sink and my hair was shampooed very quickly. No massage. In fact, I wasn’t sure she even got the nape of my neck wet. Then the towel was wrapped around my head and I went back to her chair where Breanna started blow-drying my hair. She had me facing away from the mirror so I had no idea what I looked like until she was done.

After spinning me around to face the mirror, someone with dark brown shoulder-length hair stared back at me and the bottom of her hair was flipped up in some places and hanging limp in others. Along with the feeling of neglect, I was trying to understand where the reddish color was and what had become of the page boy I had asked for. Then it occurred to me that Breanna may not have known what a page boy even was. That would explain the blank look she gave me, but I had had a photo of one that I had shown her and I remembered pointing to it. If she was too young to know what a page boy was, why didn’t she say she hadn’t heard that term used before?

I was so disappointed and exhausted by this time, I paid her and left, thinking I’d just not ever go back. When I got home, I went into my bathroom and ran my spread-out fingers up through the bottom of my hair at the nape of my neck and my hand came out covered in wet, gooey, dark-brown hair dye. How could Breanna have dried my hair and not noticed she’d not rinsed all the dye out? I couldn’t believe my eyes! And to make matters worse, there was not a hint of any red in the dye. The more I thought about it, the madder I got. The cut she gave me was too long, too. I had asked for a length between my chin and shoulder. What I got was hair that hung down and split at my shoulder because it was too long. To top it all off, not only did she do a poor job; she had no social skills whatsoever!

Clearly, I made a bad choice in salons, but I never dreamed I could be off that much. Throughout my adult life I worked in a service oriented business and I always gave my customers more than they expected. In other words, I treated people like I would like to be treated.

Is this a millennial thing? Or is this an unqualified stylist thing? Or both? Are young people unable to communicate with the public because of their isolation as a result of technology; the cell phone? Is that the problem? I have noticed people don’t communicate much anymore in doctor’s or dentist’s offices, restaurants and such, but this oddity seems to have totally crippled young people in particular. I might even be so bold as to say this lack of communication has become what appears to be an act of rudeness. Am I alone in thinking this? Do they know this is how some older people feel? Do they even care? Can I ever hope to get my hair done in a salon and feel pampered again? I’ve lost my confidence in being able to tell. Am I being unreasonable? Maybe so, if I didn’t say anything. I guess I should I have told her, but didn’t because I didn’t want to hurt her feelings? This is really bothering me.

Let me know your thoughts, dear readers.


Coco Ihle is the author of SHE HAD TO KNOW, an atmospheric traditional mystery set mainly in Scotland. Join her here each 11th of the month.


Filed under How To, life, musings, writing

You Talk, I’ll Listen; Vice Versa; Repeat, by Carole Howard

I’ve been thinking about an idea for Congress. True, it will take them longer to get anything done. Then again, maybe they’ll actually get something done.

It has to do with communication skills, about which I used to conduct corporate seminars. One seminar was devoted to listening or, as we in the biz called it, active listening – different from hearing. One of the ‘active listening’ techniques was to paraphrase the other person, particularly if that other person said something with an emotional overlay.

For example, “You’re saying you’re frustrated because I don’t give clear instructions and then I get impatient with you if you don’t do it the way I want? Is that it?”

Sometimes people would think it was too technique-y. “The other guy already knows what he said, why do I need to say it again?” I can understand feeling silly when you repeat another’s point of view. (See? I’m doing it.) But most people agreed that when they were the person being actively listened to and then paraphrased, it felt great.

Not surprising, because the simple truth is that everyone wants to be understood. (This is not my own idea. Lots of people have said the same thing. Freud. Buddha. Oprah.) Not necessarily agreed with, but understood. There’s a difference. There’s a certain very important person in my life to whom I’ve pointed this out many times. Lovingly, of course. But I digress.

One of the exercises I used in that program was particularly interesting, and here’s where Congress comes in.

I’d pair people up. They’d choose a controversial issue to discuss (from a list I provided), ideally one on which they disagreed. Person A – let’s call her Alicia – would have 1-2 minutes to talk about her views on the subject. (If it weren’t an exercise with rules, Person B, here called Bernard, would be thinking, while Alicia was talking, about how wrong she was.  And he’d be planning what he would say as soon as it was his turn. Or even before.)

body-20parts-20clip-20art-1194986541442028018ear_-_body_part_nicu_buc_01.svg.medBut in this exercise, when Alicia was done speaking, Bernard could not say what he thought about the topic until he’d restated in his own words, to Alicia’s satisfaction, his understanding of what she’d just said.

For example: “You said that, even though you think guns cause much too much violence in our country, the fact that the constitution says we’re allowed to have them means we just have to put up with them. Or change the constitution. Is that it?”  If Bernard didn’t get it right, Alicia had the opportunity to clarify.  Then Bernard would re-state.

Then they’d switch roles: Bernard would express his point of view:  “Actually, the Second Amendment to the constitution says nothing about private access to firearms, but only protects the citizens’ right to keep and bear arms when they’re serving in a state militia.”  Then Alicia would re-state Bernard’s argument to his satisfaction.

It didn’t make them agree with each other. That wasn’t the point. But knowing they’d have to recapitulate the other’s point of view made them really listen to each other instead of biding their time until they got to explain their own “correct” point of view.

It was eye-opening. (Ear-opening?) Like I said, being understood is powerful. Why don’t you try it and see? Let us know how it goes and, of course, we’ll listen to every word you say.

*  *  *

Carole Howard is the author of Deadly Adagio, published by Second Wind Publishing.  She’s a good listener, too.


Filed under writing

Why They’re Called “The Opposite Sexes”

Men and women both check out the other sex, but who does it more?

Women. Recent research shows that women actually check out men slightly more than men check out women, but women are more subtle about it. Another study — of nonnudists at a nudist colony — showed that men had difficulty resisting the urge to look, and their gazes were obvious. Women, on the other hand, were not caught gazing, though they had just as hard a time resisting the urge. Women also managed not to drool.

Does this negate the first study or prove that women have more self-control than men? No to both. It only means that men and women are hardwired differently. Women have better peripheral vision than men, so they can appear to be looking at a man’s face when in fact they are checking him out.

Men generally have poor close range vision, which keeps them from seeing what’s directly in front of them, (which is why they can never find the remote) but they are better than women at spotting targets over long distances. A marvelous skill for hunting food . . . at the grocery store.

Writers often make men and women characters interchangeable, using only physical attributes to tell them apart, forgetting that there are differences between the two species. (I know, men and women aren’t two different species, but you have to admit it feels that way sometimes.)

Brain scans show that women have between fourteen and sixteen areas that evaluate others’ behavior, while men have only four to six. Because of this, women are better at juggling several unrelated topics in a single conversation. They also use five vocal tones to make their points. Since men can only identify three of those tones, they often miss what women are trying to say. So men accuse women of not being direct and women accuse men of not listening.

It’s amazing we manage to communicate as well as we do, considering that men and women have different reasons for conversing. Women ask questions to show interest in the person; men ask questions to gain information. Women find that talking about a problem provides relief; men feel that talking about a problem is dwelling on the negative. Women think that continuing to discuss the problem demonstrates support; men want to make a decision and forget it. Women provide peripheral details because they want to be understood; men just want them to make their point. Women think that talking about a relationship brings people closer; men generally think it’s useless.

Women are better at interpreting body language than men. Because of men’s inability to read body language, a crying baby often confuses them, though women know exactly what the infant wants. Women’s subconscious ability to interpret body language makes them seem more intuitive than men, but men (and women) can consciously learn to interpret body language, which evens things out.

Both men and women swallow more when they lie, but it’s mostly apparent in men because of that bobbing Adams apple.

Despite these differences, the two species do manage to come together and procreate. Otherwise none of us would be here.

Pat Bertram is the author of More Deaths Than One,  and A Spark of Heavenly Fire now available from Second Wind Publishing, LLC.


Filed under books, fiction, fun, life, musings, Pat Bertram, writing