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Home :: Professional / Features
Mental Beauty For the Salon Artist
by Elke Von Freudenberg

It's been a long day at the salon, and as the last client comes in for the day, my mind starts to drift towards something else. Anything else. The hardest part is usually not the actual creative service itself, but the mental one. In a service driven business such as ours, it's important that we not only stay creatively alert, but mentally alert as well.

So what gets in our way? Energy or the lack of it. The top reasons that we are familiar with come from lack of food or lack of sleep, but really, the #1 reason is from lack of mental energy.

Where does this energy come or not come from? The client. How is that possible? Through touch. By touching your client, as we must do, we pass energy back and forth. Ever notice that when you're working on an angry or upset client, that you're drained by the time you're done, even though you were energized and happy when she walked in? What happened? Touch. Though I'm by no means a doctor or medical expert in this matter, I've noticed that my client's energy more than often rubbed off on me. Since it's really hard to avoid touching your client during the course of your service, here are some mental mind games that you can use to stay mentally alert and positive.

"Positive over Negative."
You're on top of the world. You just got a raise and the new makeup/hair collection came in. Your client sits down and you notice she's not a happy camper. What do you do? Tell yourself mentally that any positive energy you have is and will be stronger and more powerful than her negative one. Okay, maybe it's not, but your mind doesn't know the difference. You just said so. Keep focusing on it and you'll notice that your mood won't change. Why? You'll find yourself actually focusing your positive energy onto her. The best part? Your client will more than likely walk away happier than when she came in.

"Where do I start?"
Your client is ready for her service and you don't know where to begin. Don't be so hard on yourself. The best part of a service, especially a makeup service, is that you can really start anywhere you want. At a loss for creativity? Go by instinct. Shut off the brain, and go by your gut. What hit you first as you looked at the client? Her lips, her skin, her eyes? Your gut reaction is always the best look to go with. The hardest lesson I learned in the beginning of my career was not to go against my instinct. If I changed my mind and went with what I thought mentally would work, I always was unhappy with it in some way at the end.

"I'm not good enough."
It's the number one thing I hear from my assistants as I give them more responsibility. They hesitate at doing more, when they've been doing just fine so far. What happened? Usually it was a mental thought. If you feel 'not good enough', get outside of your head. Your negative thoughts can actually reinforce itself in your creative process by producing something you don't like anyway. It's one of those mental, "See? I told you so!"....Tell your mental thoughts to take a hike, and concentrate on your creativity. Think from your arm down, not the neck up. Some of the best looks I've been lucky to create are the ones where my mind went blank,and I literally don't even remember doing them. I looked at the finished work, and thought, 'did I do that?'. I like to think that those looks were created when the heart took over.......

"I don't like it."
Your client obviously doesn't like the new look you're doing. The hardest part is not to take it personally. You're crushed, you're hurt, but really, it's not you she doesn't like. It's her image in the mirror. And believe me, it's one that you can easily fix. Start thinking of ways to solve any beauty crisis that may come your way. Be a beauty problem solver. Laugh and think of it as the next great challenge. What would Kevyn Aucoin, or Orlando Pita do in this situation? After a million photo shoots where I can have an art director, a photographer, a hairstylist,a model, a client, a wardrobe stylist, AND an assistant, all say they don't like something, believe me, it's a breeze when it's only coming from 1 person. Repeat after me, "I can fix anything".

"I feel a storm coming on."
Your client's very upset. Or worse. Angry. Anger is almost always shown in loudness. And the louder someone is, they harder they're trying to be heard. Like the little child who is screaming as opposed to crying. What do they want? Just someone to listen. That's all. You don't have to really say anything, just let them talk. Be cordial, polite, kind. I know, it's hard to do when you either want to deck them, or cower behind the chair. But realize that how you respond (either positively or negatively) is how they're going to remember you. (Hey, you're going to remember them forever as that angry client, right?) Also, gently smile. It's really hard to stay angry at someone who's smiling at you. Listen to the words, not the anger. Hear what they're trying to say, and become the problem solver. What can you do to solve their problem? You'll find once you take the time to listen, the decibel level lowers too. Think of how you would like to have a complaint solved. It's the always the nicest ones that smiled, nodded, and were polite to you as they solved the problem that you ended up walking away feeling relieved.

"Where's my coffee?"
Okay, so you're just plain tired. Why? You'd be surprised that most likely it's from the words you were speaking all day and not the lack of coffee. Okay, be honest, where they worthwhile? The words I mean. Idle gossip, chatter and meaningless chit chat can really do a number on you. And you go home tired, wasted, and not really remembering much of your day. Why is that so? Because the levels of conversation you had during the day were pretty much useless. Lets face it, your intelligent brain never got the chance to speak up. Who cares that your client is having an affair and that you couldn't get your dry cleaning picked up this morning and so on? If you find yourself spending more mental time on words that have meaning, you actually do walk away feeling better about yourself, and a little better about your world.

The key to all this? You have the power to control all those thoughts that are chattering in your head. Make it a priority to create and listen to the positive new ones. And you just may find yourself changing your clients day as well as your own.

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