Managing Client Conversation and Conflict

Read Time: 11 Minutes
Expertise Area: All Career Fields
Career Stage: Recently Licensed & Seasoned Professionals

Managing conversations and conflict is a necessary skill needed by beauty and wellness professionals. The core of your business is interacting with people. Fortunately, most of those interactions are mutual and pleasant, however there are times when miscommunication and misunderstanding occur that can escalate an unpleasant situation. This guide gives you the tools to expand your communication skill set and manage every conversation with ease and grace.

There is saying by Peak Performance Coach, Tony Robbins, “Communication is the results you get and if you are not getting the results you want, change the way communicate.” How often do we communicate with someone who is having a hard time grasping what we are trying to tell them, only to blame the other person, wondering why they find it so hard to understand what you are trying to say? When you are not getting the results you want, then it’s time to change the way you communicate. We live in a world of language and energy. Language is a powerful form of communication, and communication is a key element in empowerment. Often the disempowerment we experience is a direct result of not realizing the powerful effect the words we say and hear are. We may have learned from a young age the importance of communication but most of us never fully understand what communication is and how it impacts us. Our words can empower or disempower not only us but others. Our choice of words and the way we say those words have a major impact on the world around us.

During the time we are communicating a message there are two elements used to receive the information. The first is the content. The content will be the choice of words being used and the second will be the context, which is the circumstances for the setting for the conversation. Are you conveying good news or bad news, are you feeling angry, sad, or happy? All this will affect your tone. The tone of your voice helps the receiver interpret what is being communicated. Both your words and tone can create a sense of empowerment; however, the tone you use will affect how the receiver reacts to what is being communicated and will affect whether it is empowering or not. The tone is the non-verbal element or energy carried in the words. We use this energy to interpret what is being said, so even simple messages can be misunderstood. Ironically, we tend to trust the non-verbal energy more than the verbal words being shared.

Think About The Tone

When communicating with others how does your tone sound? Are you confident in what you are saying? Is there strength? Fear? Uncertainty? Sarcasm? Be honest with yourself because this is where you find real empowerment. When it comes to the tone you use when communicating, there are certain elements to consider.

Voice Projection

Voice projection is strength of voice when speaking. It is a technique which can create empowerment and respect, as well as draw attention. The breath is essential for proper voice projection. If you are speaking very rapidly and out of breath you may be interpreted as weak or scared. Normal breath flows with your words and comes from the top part of your lungs. Practice projecting your voice using air flowing from the expansion of your diaphragm.

Pitch

Pitch represents the perceived fundamental frequency of a sound. Have you ever listened to someone who never changes their pitch? It can be very draining. The most engaging, empowered speakers modulate their voices and their speech becomes almost song-like. Listen to any great talk show host, actor, or comedian and try to mimic their "song" by humming it. This exercise will open a new world of communication for you.

Pace

Pace your words. When speaking too fast all the words get bunched together in one breath and create a rhythm of uneasiness. Allow your words to flow and pace yourself in an even rhythm.

Definitive Statements

Definitive statements are best used when making statements as positive and definitive as possible. Rather than saying, "You might want to consider going shorter with your hair." Make a bolder assertion instead. Try something along the lines of, "Since you want a new look, let’s take your hair shorter it will…" Wishy-washy statements will undercut you and are usually the product of an incomplete thought. It suggests you aren't confident in what you are saying.

Paying attention to not only what you say but how you say it allows you to create interactions of empowerment and respect. Choose your words wisely.

How to Communicate Effectively

Building Rapport with Your Clients

Rapport happens when we have a harmonious relationship categorized by agreement and mutual understanding. We all have clients in our lives where this happens naturally and instantaneous and at with other clients, we have to work at it. Our subconscious mind seeks out that which is like itself, so it makes sense we will have instant rapport with some clients who are more like us and not others. As a beauty and wellness professional, building rapport with your clients is essential to retaining them. One of the easiest ways to build rapport with your clients is to find the commonality you share, talk about hobbies, kids, sports, wellness, etc. Another way is to make them feel special. One sure way to make them feel special is by remembering important facts about their life that they share. On their next visit to the salon, spa, or shop you can inquire about what they shared with you on their last visit.

As a beauty and wellness professional sometimes it’s hard to establish rapport; some people are just hard to connect with. “Dealing” with difficult clients comes with the territory. But it doesn’t have to be that way. The goal is not to take on the attitude of “dealing” with clients, rather, it is to serve regardless of their demeanor. Not every client will love you or the work you do, but that’s no reason you shouldn't strive to be better. Aiming to serve every client is a great strategy and one that will serve you well.

Begin with a Warm and Genuine Welcome

We all have bad days and when the pressure is mounting it can be difficult to not wear our emotions on our sleeves. Keep in mind: your bad day does not have to be your client’s bad day and vise a versa. Begin each interaction with enthusiasm and gusto, even if you have to fake it. Use the client’s name, smile, be pleasant and kind. Awesome client service from the start will neutralize most people's uneasiness. Think of several instances where from the beginning, the client seemed distant upon first meeting, but your professionalism won them over. In most cases, it has nothing to with you; it was a bad day or crummy weather but by the time they got to your chair they had begun to warm up a bit. It may be elementary in nature but the first impression has the potential to be a powerful tool when diffusing a difficult client.

First Impressions

It takes 30 seconds to form an opinion of someone you just met. The conclusions being made about you might surprise you. Just from the way you present yourself, clients will assume your skill level, personality, trustworthiness, level of success, abilities and more. Their immediate opinion goes a long way in determining whether they like you and if they want to do business with you. First impressions are more heavily influenced by nonverbal cues such as your personal appearance and your body language. Don’t let your first impression keep you from creating a harmonious relationship with your clients.

Be Aware of Your Body Language

90% of communication is unconscious, meaning we are unaware of most of what we are communicating to the world. The way to communicate consciously is to be fully present with the client who is in front of you. Remember to make consistent and engaging eye contact as often as possible. Doing so will help the client feel more connected and heard. People are attracted to enthusiasm. When faced with it, they tend to soften up and tune in. As far as body language is concerned, be aware of what your body is telling your client. If you are rushed, distracted, and looking everywhere but at them, reconnect and get present. Nothing kills a client’s confidence faster than a service provider who is not engaged with them. Also, be aware of facial expressions. They should read nothing short of confident, enthusiastic, and caring.

Communicate

The most powerful advantage you will ever have is the knowledge and experience you have in your field. Always take the opportunity to talk through what you’re doing when you can. Communicate with your client by walking through your every decision, movement, and detail about their service. Clients tend to be more interested than offended, especially when you are talking about them.

Close Strong

If by this point, you still have not established rapport, don't take it personally. Remember you can't make everyone happy, but it doesn’t mean you shouldn't try. Be genuine and enthusiastic in the close. Follow through with the same business practices as you would for anyone else. If the client does not vibe, it will not be because of a lack of professionalism. Cut your losses and get ready to do it again. Your next client just walked in.

Rapport is essential to harmonious relationships and helps ease tensions when conflict arises. When dealing with conflict, it’s not the conflict that’s the issue; it’s the way the conflict is handled that determines the outcome. Here’s how to handle client complaints for the best possible outcome.

Handling Client Complaints

Let's face it: dealing with a client complaint is the last situation anyone wants to be in, however, how you handle yourself and the situation will make a big difference for the client and your business. Handling client complaints poorly can potentially damage your reputation, lead to lost clients and sales and negatively impact your business, no matter your position in the business. When dealing with client complaints, look no further than yourself and how you react to complaints when they occur. Your reaction is the difference between great service and mediocre service, especially when a complaint comes along.

Check Your Emotions

When a client begins complaining, remember you are a human dealing with a potentially negative situation. A few things to remember to help you keep your emotions in check; it's not about you. The client is not upset with you, they are upset with the situation, and their emotional reaction is being directed at you. If you internalize this and make it about you, you may shut down or get nervous. Let them do the talking. This is your time to listen.

Make it About Them

Thank them for bringing this situation to your attention. This is the first moment where you can begin to diffuse the situation and direct the energy to a level of calmness. From here you can begin to handle the situation and make it better. Once you thank them for bringing the complaint to your attention, ask them what happened. Use this opportunity to listen carefully to the complaint. Be sure you stay in the moment and listen to not only what they're saying but how they're saying it. Watch their facial expressions and body language so you can match their energy.

Let Them Know Your Hear Them

Repeat back the complaint to them and get acknowledgment you heard it correctly. You are looking for a nod or a verbal agreement, a gesture or words that indicate they agree with what you said. If they do not agree with you, ask them to repeat it. This is showing empathy for the client and letting them know their feelings are important to you. This interaction helps ease tensions because it is clear that you're listening and you want to help them.

Apologize

This is where having humility and understanding play a part. Even if a mistake has not been made, in their mind there was. What you're apologizing for is not only what may have happened but also for the fact the situation has occurred and the inconvenience this situation is causing them now. We've all heard of or experienced situations where the business or employee dealing with complaints gets defensive, righteous, or combative. It's not about being right in this moment; it's about serving the client and making them feel understood.

Acknowledgment

Once you have a sense of what the issue is and more importantly how they feel about it, acknowledge the client's feelings. You may be sensing anger, frustration, or disappointment. By voicing it to them, the client will begin to feel understood. You can say something to the effect of, “I sense your frustration and disappointment.”

Offer Solutions

Let the client know what action you're going to take to correct the problem. Be clear about what you will do and when you will do it. Be calm and confident in your decision as this energy will transfer over to the client and help them feel supported. It's also going to make them feel a bit more relaxed before moving on. Be sure your solution will handle the situation thoroughly for them. It’s important to get their agreement about the solution you offered. Once you have their agreement, you can begin to act and help them to rectify the situation.

Thank Them

Let them know your salon, spa, or shop is committed to great service and you couldn't improve if you didn't know when clients were unhappy. Reiterate that they make a difference and you're always there to serve and support them.

If they need anything further once you've handled the complaint and have corrected the situation be sure to take these following steps so that it doesn't happen again.

Keep a Complaint Log

Document what happened, when it happened, and what you did about it. You can also use this log to look for patterns in your client service so you can improve. If you are an owner or manager, share what happened with your team at your next meeting so everyone can grow and learn from it. If you begin to see a pattern with a team member you can then address it privately and coach them through it.

For most, communicating effectively is a learned skill. It takes practice, awareness, and the commitment to bring harmony to every interaction. Show up every day and fully engage with your clients, listen actively to their beauty and wellness needs, and show them you genuinely care.

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