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Client Banter: Tune into Non-Verbal Communication

Tuesday, 25 September 2018 10:38

In the client-hairdresser relationship, body language plays a fundamental role. Eye contact and respect for social distances are the first rules of non-verbal communication. We spoke about this with Roberto Acquaroli.

Non-verbal language is a way of communicating that is sometimes involuntary, but other times deliberate. In any case, it is always an important tool, a way of creating a rapport with other –in both our private and professional lives– through alternative signals and body language that must be read and used carefully. We talked about this topic with Roberto Acquaroli, owner of the Pourparler Parrucchieri salon in Senigallia, Italy; Vitality's partner and well-known training in this sector.

Body language plays a fundamental role when working behind the chair and, above all, to success in transmitting to your client a sense of security and professionalism," explains Roberto. "It also help us to understand emotions (and therefore potential trepidations) of the person in front of you –says the stylist– This is why the courses I’m planning for next autumn here in Ancona will include one dedicated to this topic. I got the idea while watching the TV programme Lie to Me, where the protagonist is an expert in non-verbal communications working for the justice system to reveal delinquents and liars. The main merit of this TV series is to reveal the power of body language to the general public.

The numbers help us to better understand the role that this type of language plays, even in the salon:
95% of a conversation is made up of non-verbal elements
5% are verbal

So it becomes clear why, in a conversation, behaviour and the body language of the person make such an impression compared to the words used. “The position of the body, the expression of the eyes, the body language of the client helps us to understand if we are going in the right direction," continues Roberto. "For example, not necessarily are folded arms a position of closure, but certainly an open smile that also involves the eyes is a sign of satisfaction. Likewise, tightly closed lips indicate intense tension or a refusal to what we are proposing.”

In a salon, where the sound of the hairdryers, music, and many people present does not allow the hairdresser to speak effectively with the client, smiling can be a good way to enter in sync with her and communicate that everything is going well, but how does it work with colleagues? “To speak with your colleagues, you must establish codes, above all for those who, like me, often work backstage for TV and theatrical events. For example, to tell my team that we have to speed up service, I use the gesture of scissors done with the index and middle finger.

The right distance

One of the aspects to take into consideration in body language is also the distance, which can be divided into three types:
Intimate and personal distance: The first is less than 45 cm and the second is 120 cm, and can be used with people with whom you have a confidential relationship;
Social distance: Between 120 cm and 3,5 metres, concerns people who know each other, as in a hairdresser/client relationship;
Public distance: More than 3.5 metres, can be used for conversations in public.

How important is it to maintain the right distance with the client?In our profession, it is not possible to maintain the so-called social distance, which is the best one for relationships between acquaintances. From the consultation to the color service, we hairdressers need to touch the hair, which means that the distance is reduced; the same way happens that I have to literally take a client by his nose to cut his beard,” explains Roberto. “Obviously, in the interaction with collaborators or suppliers, the distances are back to these standards.”

Three types of people, three different body languages

It is best to remember that there are different types of people who present different body languages and ways of communicating:

Aggressive: They don’t listen to the speaker, make non-constructive criticism, and interrupt constantly. They speak constantly and quickly, using their fists often. Obviously, this way of communicating is not suitable for speaking with clients, who instead required patience, listening, and big smiles.
Passive: They can be recognised by a subdued tone of voice, downward glance, and they tend to cite others rather than formulate concepts. During a conversation they fiddle with objects, speak with the hands in front of their mouth, and wish that is was over. These people are hiding basic fears, kind with clients but not the best for giving beauty tips.
Assertive: Open, cordial, they make direct and constant eye-contact with the speaker and their body is free from constrictions. The rhythm and tones of the conversation vary according to the topic and they never risk expressing themselves in an unbending fashion.  All in all, these individuals are ideal for managing in-salon communications.

Learning to recognize these three types of characters can be useful when selecting collaborators and deciding which role to assign to them. But this is another topic that we will deal with another time.

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