How to nail your consultations with one easy step


Want to know what most stylists are missing in their consultation? It may be the simplest step of all, yet most of us screech past it without even blinking. Here it is: learn to listen. well.

You’ve probably heard someone say “Hearing is one thing, truly listening is another.” You can apply this to many different aspects of your career and life, but I could bet that your consultation is lacking this fundamental step. How do I know? because mine lacked it for years. I thought I was listening. I heard their words, I repeated things back to them, I waited until it was my turn to speak. But I wasn’t really, truly, listening.

Here are some steps to make sure that you’re hearing your client correctly during the consultation and through the rest of your appointment as well:

  • Watch their body language:

    This is the biggest one. If you learn how to interpret your clients body language, you can open up a whole different realm of understanding. You don’t need to take a course on this or decipher if they’re lying by how fast they blink: you just have to watch a little more carefully.

    Ever had a client tell you that they want to take four inches off, you obliged, and then they were devastated? I mean, I think we’ve all been there. I could bet that had you watched their body language a little closer, you would have seen that their hands were showing you something completely different than “four inches.” Pay close attention to their hands when they’re describing length and if they’re not using them to give you examples: ask them to.

    You can also tell what they’re open to by how they react with their body. Do they tense up when you talk about certain ideas for their color? Do they consisently keep moving their hair in a certain direction after you’ve combed it straight? All of these are little clues in to what they like to see on themselves.

  • Listen to the in-betweens:

    A client might only be well versed in telling you exactly what they want, as in: “I want lighter pieces right around the face.” or “I want a cut that suits my face shape best.” but they’re also telling you pretty vital information about what they don’t want at the same time. Ok, so they need depth right behind the hairline in order to make the light pieces stand out, and they definitely don’t want you to accentuate their jawline because they have some sort of false idea about how it looks on them. See what I did there? It’s filling in the gaps yourself around what they aren’t saying to you.

  • Clarify everything:

    Now, we don’t want to be master interpreters without a little clarification. We can guess all day about what they want, but that doesn’t make it true. All of these forms of listening need to be clarified with the client before you take them as fact. Repeat back what you are hearing (and seeing) from them, and make sure that you’ve made the correct guesses before you whip out any tools. If we take in everything we hear from the client as fact without clarification, us and the guest will be headed for a world of hurt.

  • Keep them comfortable:

    You want your chair to be a safe space for each and every client. You want them to feel like they can tell you if they’re not happy with something, if they want to try something new, or if they’re having a bad day and on the verge of getting bangs because of it. If our clients don’t feel safe with us, they’re not going to open up. If they don’t open up, we will never be able to deliver on their (sometimes silent) expectations. Keep clients happy by providing an open line of communication with them that makes them feel safe, accepted, and loved.

All of these listening tips are gauranteed to up level your consultation immediately. Try them out this week, even on existing guests, and see how much better the communication is between you two. You might be surprised with what you discover.

Esther ChapmanComment