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Re-engaging with the Hairdresser

Julie Allsopp

Our Coaching team take a look at the questions we might find helpful as we re-engage with society in different ways after lockdown. In this article, we look at the very common activity of getting our hair cut and how we can make the most of those encounters with our hairdresser or barber.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that I am sorely in need of a haircut.

Cries of laughter rang out from my younger brother when he caught sight of me recently on a Zoom call, saying he hadn’t seen me with a mullet like this since about 1982. Rude, but true. Thanks, little bro.

Needless to say, I’m looking forward immensely to my first haircut as restrictions lift. After months of contact with pretty much none but my immediate family, the thought of a proper in-person conversation with someone only a little known to me – like Gina, my hairdresser – is exciting, and not a little daunting. Given what we’ve all endured over this past year, the heavy toll this time in the wilderness has taken on our physical and mental health, on our working lives and on our spiritual and emotional lives, I hope our conversation over the sink and the scissors does not revert to the pre-pandemic tried and tested “Going anywhere nice on your holidays this year?”.

As I sit in the chair, with Gina well and truly in my personal space – and me in hers – how can basic (but oh-so-powerful) coaching skills be put to good use?

Firstly, by being a gentle, interested and engaged presence, asking a few good questions; and secondly, by simply listening – really listening – to the answers. It’s amazing how little people experience this in their day-to-day lives. Yet it’s such a potent thing, to invite someone to tell you about themselves and really be interested in what they have to say.

So perhaps I can begin with some simple openers:

  • How are you? (And I really do mean, how are you?)
  • How are you feeling?

Then I can truly listen to what Gina has to share and can encourage deeper reflection:

  • Tell me what you’ve learned about yourself this past year…
  • What’s become important to you now?

Perhaps even:

  • How can I be praying for you?

Perhaps our lived experiences these past months will open a door to this kind of communication at a deeper level, an opportunity for a more profound exchange. It may not be what Gina – or any other hairdresser! – might be expecting from us as their clients. But what an opportunity it presents for us to show the love of Jesus, just by being that calm, listening presence as we sit in that chair.

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