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More Captive Than Client

pissed off woman on bench

More Captive Than Client


Image by Efuetatem on Pixabay

“We have all been asked to wrestle with a false dilemma: being kind to ourselves or being kind to others. In truth, though, being kind to ourselves is a prerequisite to being kind to others.”

– Mark Nepo, “The Book of Awakening”

Am I being catty?

At the risk of sounding like a spoiled brat who has nothing better to do than gripe about silly matters when the world continues to be turned upside down by one serious issue after another, I do have an observation I would like to share.

But first…

Full disclosure (literally): I suspect this blog will be of more interest to female readers than male. So if you are a guy reading this, feel free to exit.

I wish I could’ve.

Exit the situation, that is…the one I found myself in recently. AGAIN.

But you see, therein lies the problem: I couldn’t leave the situation. That’s the point of this rant…the driving question I have for readers:

Is it rude to tell the person who is, um, providing one with a... personal service to please be quiet and focus on the task at hand, so one can get the heck outta there and move on with one's day? Click To Tweet
Image by Prettysleepy on Pixabay

At the risk of sharing TMI, I was having a bikini wax the other day and the esthetician WOULD NOT STOP TALKING. Yes, okay, I admit she had her…work cut out for her 🙁 but I don’t think the (unpleasant at the best of times) procedure had to take an HOUR!

She seemed far more interested in telling me her latest news – than in getting the damn deed done in a timely manner.

And then we moved on to the pedicure.

I kid you not, three and a half hours later, I slithered out of her home studio, down the steps and into my car. I drove home, made a soothing cup of tea and stared out the window at what remained of the day – which wasn’t much.

I was beyond exhausted from our encounter.

Yes, it was an interesting conversation. She is a kind, caring and fascinating person. But I am going to be very catty and do a quick post-game analysis of the ratio of when SHE spoke and I listened (very intently, I might add…hence the exhaustion) and when I spoke and she listened.

And the ratio, I would say, was this: she spoke 85% of the time and I spoke 15% of the time (if that).

Now, if this was a one-off incident, I would chalk it up to a weird day. But it isn’t. This has happened again and again – not just with this particular esthetician but also with other personal service providers, including multiple hairdressers.

Many times, I have felt more like a captive than a client. Yes, I am a good listener…and I care (sometimes). But I am also a paying customer who does have a schedule.

Okay, not really.

BUT I would much rather be spending my precious time walking on the beach, or writing, or saving the planet, or reading a good book versus being stuck in a chair, listening to someone drone on…drawing out what could be (should be) a fairly quick appointment into a half-day ordeal.

Which leads me to my next catty rant…

Why does it take a hairdresser three hours to cut & colour my hair…and I still end up leaving the salon looking like a wet rat – BECAUSE THEY DON’T HAVE TIME TO BLOWDRY IT, let alone style it?

Again, if this just happened once or twice, I would not be wasting your precious time by subjecting you to this blog. But it has happened over and over again. For some strange reason, most hairdressers nowadays vehemently refuse to use a skull cap on my head for highlighting.

Despite my wishes and explanations (“I have REALLY thick hair!” I say upon arrival), they insist on using foils. So then, by the two-and-half-hour mark, when they are still ripping off MORE pieces of tinfoil (I hate the waste!) and remark, “Gee, you have really thick hair…I can’t believe I need more foil!” I am just ready to cry.

I want to leap up from the chair and scream, “I TOLD YOU THAT TWO AND A HALF HOURS AGO!” and then run out the door.

Alas, I cannot. Not because I don’t want to be rude…but rather because a) my head is covered in tin foil and b) I do not have any energy left. I have been sucked dry by listening to their incessant chatter.

Now, my beloved hairdresser in Calgary could cut, colour, blow dry & style my hair (AND give me a bikini wax!) in two hours. And we always had a good conversation, too. So I KNOW it can be done!

Likewise with my sweet esthetician in Victoria who always gave me the perfect pedi…in precisely one hour.

I shall end my ridiculous rant here. However…

Have YOU ever felt more like a captive than a client during personal services treatments? Click To Tweet

I look forward to hearing your feedback (please be kind) and any suggestions you might have, as to how best to move forward with future personal service providers.

These are the suggestions I have received so far:

  1. Tell the service provider ahead of time that you have to leave at a certain time. (I have – sometimes this works & sometimes they forget)
  2. Tell the service provider you are not much of a talker.
  3. Tell the service provider you would prefer to just be quiet and enjoy (as much as possible) this bit of downtime.
  4. Look at your phone while receiving the treatment.
  5. Read a book while receiving the treatment.

Maryanne Pope is the author of “A Widow’s Awakening.” She also writes screenplays, playscripts and blogs. Maryanne is the CEO of Pink Gazelle Productions and a Director with the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund. To receive her blog, “Weekly Words of Wisdom,” please subscribe here.

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14 thoughts on “More Captive Than Client”

  1. I feel your pain! Yes. It happens at the Massage therapy appointments, too.
    Maybe try putting in your ear pods in and telling her you’re catching up on an important podcast your business associate sent you and you have to report back to her immediately after the appointment.
    An artist friend would put in his earphones while painting out side in public places so he wouldn’t be interrupted. He stuck the other end in his pocket. He could then listen to the comments made by people passing by!
    Good luck!

  2. Hi Maryanne
    I cut and colour and wash my own hair. Only been to a hairdresser three times in my 83rd years and they screwed up every time.
    I do my own nails and pedicure….only twice in my life have I had the pleasure of a professional working on the nails….and therefore, I am always talking to myself during these procedures…. and nobody answers.
    TRY IT>>>>>YOU MAY LIKE IT!!!!! Enjoy the sunshine. Louise

  3. I too have a chatty massage therapist. Just when you want some peace and quiet the chatter seems to go on and on and it’s mostly just gossip!
    That’s the reason I only go when absolutely necessary (back pain). It is hard to escape from any of these procedures isn’t it? I hate to leave with oily hair all askew but have felt like it multiple times. I’m not sure what is the best way to escape!

  4. Great suggestions Maryanne. Nobody should feel “captive” with any practitioner, whether it be esthetic or a more complex health related appointment. As a Biodynamic Craniosacral practitioner, I establish what we call a “relational field” with the client at the beginning of every session. I ask the client if they prefer to be quiet, or if they would like me to share my observations and processes with them. I request that they feel free to share with me any thoughts, feelings or sensations during the session. Most clients prefer to be quiet and our verbal communication is minimal. If there is any “story-telling”, it should come from the client….after all it is YOUR session. You have a right to co-create the experience you prefer, even if the procedure is unpleasant as in the bikini wax situation (ouch). Every interaction you have with a practitioner, involves a relationship of energies, whether they are filing your nails or putting acupuncture needles into your body. Your role is to state your preferences and needs right up front…and sometimes we have to reinforce those “preferences” or even “boundaries” with practitioners who are less than sensitive to your request.
    I go to a woman in her home studio for facials. She is a “talker” and a gum chewer. The gum chewing was like nails on a chalk board for me. I requested that she not chew gum in our sessions. She has remembered and respected that request. But I often have to remind her that I prefer to just relax and be quiet. One of the easy ways that I’ve found to address that, lying there with goop on my face, is to say that I really love the relaxing music she has playing in the background (classical guitar or soothing instrumental) and can I just tune into that and enjoy it. It works!
    Perhaps when practitioners ignore our requests, needs or comments, we need to find a different resource or practitioner for getting our needs met.

  5. this is so funny cause I JUST came from getting a mani-pedi something I rarely treat myself to (I think I can count the times Ive done this on one hand). Since this is such a splurge for me I want it to be a lovely experience, where I feel taken care of, instead, unlike your experience, she rushed through everything, not with any care and was rather rough but she took no notice, except looking at the clock trying to rush through the whole (what I felt was to her an) ordeal. Did I say anything? Nope. Why not? Because you can’t make someone care about their job. It was alright cause I just decided that I was going to enjoy what I could and not come back again, but I hate the tip thing! They want you to pay before you are finished. So what was I to do, she was doing a job that to me didn’t deserve a large tip (also she and her family own the place so that;s always interesting) but if I didn;t give her a large tip would the rest of the manicure be even worse? I gave a small tip and it proceeded as it was but maybe with a little more of I don’t care attitude. No biggie, I got the service I needed but I won’t be back at that place. It;s just so funny that right after that I open my facebook to this blog. Have fun MA1

  6. Well now, isn’t that interesting that you had such a different experience…and felt totally rushed & ignored. Hmmm…that does not sound like a very pleasant experience! Glad you are not going back. But hearing your experience is making me re-think mine…
    Thanks for reading & sharing your feedback, Lynne!

  7. Oh wow…thank you for all these great suggestions, Pamela, AND for the reminder that it is MY session, so I do have a right to state up front how I prefer the experience unfold.
    Big hugs & talk soon,

  8. Oh no…a chatty massage therapist is not good! I guess you may have to ask for quiet next time. My massage therapist is outstanding and very sensitive to when to chat and when not to. We have developed a really good rapport over the years and I feel very comfortable saying when I need to be quiet.

    Thanks for reading & providing feedback, Marjorie. Hope your next massage is a more peaceful one!

  9. Good idea, Julie! Although after reading through all the feedback and talking to others over the past few days, I really think I need to learn how to say up front what I want & need from an experience such as a pedicure or bikini wax, etc. I think I need to stop assuming that the other person SURELY must be aware that they are talking way too much. It does seem to be coming back, yet again, to boundaries!

    Your artist friend has got it figured out. I can’t imagine writing in a public space. I would need to be in a plastic sound-proof bubble 🙂

  10. I read this at a good time because thinking about a comment to write gave me a little chuckle and a little boost of energy. (Been feeling burnt out, exhausted and tired!)(and having to listen to someone go on and on about themselves would be the last thing I could take right now!)

    So the first thing that comes to mind…. First world problems! 😳
    And the second thing is. What? you get regular pedis and massages and hair appointments! Oh the luxury. 😉
    Now I know you said be kind. And this may seem crass. But it’s only meant for tough love. Or a don’t sweat the small stuff kind of a way. Doesn’t mean it’s not valid. Because anyone that talks non stop and especially nonstop about themselves is extremely annoying! And I too don’t want to waste my precious time on that! So I totally get the frustration!

    I think you have some great suggestions. I love Louise’ suggestions. And others’ too. Don’t go back. Try the ear buds thing plugged to nothing. Although if you do get them quiet enough they might hear that you have nothing on. But you could put your own soothing music on. And state up front your wishes.
    How about phone around and finding a hairdresser that will use a skull cap instead of foils? After all you are the paying customer so why pay for a service you don’t want?
    Take care and good luck with it all!

  11. This comment came in via e-mail from a male reader:

    This makes me think of a great article I read once about the importance of saying no. And how when done eloquently, no offense needs be done, and hopefully no offence is taken (although the latter is out of your hands if you’ve done your part). Some smart lady wrote about her experiences with waiters in Paris or something.

    So, I think this is just an interpersonal thing…usually I am feeling friendly and want to talk to a therapist, which really encourages chatty therapists. But if I’m being disciplined (or tired AF), I just tell the therapist at the beginning of a treatment that I’m really tired and am not going to be good company today. Then I close my eyes and do a silent meditation, and actually get a lot more out of the treatment. With smiles and laughs of course, to keep the energy between us light and pleasant.

    Only a small minority of people in a very self absorbed state will not pick up on this not-so-subtle direction. If you encounter one of them, just don’t give any affirmation (reward) for their undesirable behaviour. Like training a dog, eventually the undesirable behaviour will disappear. If you encounter a really persistent dog (or human), you may have to give a consequence so the individual is less likely to continue that same behaviour. Could be a squirt with a water bottle, a sharp tug on a leash, or just a polite “I’m sorry, this sounds really interesting, but I’m just not in a good place to connect right now.”

    There’s a lot to be said for being explicit, and doing so in a very affable way. It really says “it’s not you, it’s me.” Really. 🙂

    Hope that helps!!
    CP, Alberta

  12. Here is another comment that came in from a male reader:

    Good article! I got a real good laugh from reading this but it was to some degree alarming to me. Has the art of conversation been completely lost or replaced? I personally look forward these kinds of sessions where I can get to know someone, hear and feel someone else’s perspective, and hopefully convince myself that there are more people in this world than just me.

    Don’t you find a haircut therapeutic? I do! How do you choose to check out of a hotel? I ALWAYS walk down to the desk and check out; I don’t do it electronically as I fear missing the opportunity to chat with someone. Perhaps technology and other media are partially to blame for why society is becoming less social, more violent, and far less forgiving?

    DL, Calgary, AB

  13. Here is another comment that came in via e-mail, also from a male reader:

    That’s a tricky position to be in. 3hrs or so of an 85/15 split of listening/talking..the idea of that is giving me heart palpitations already! But thankfully I’ve not been in that position. I get my hair cut once a month snd it takes roughly 45 minutes. I’ve known my stylist for 8 years and we get on well, so 45 minutes once a month is perfect for me as a catch up. But, there have been times I’ve not been feeling too chatty and that’s when it can feel kinda awkward.

    But thankfully, when I’m feeling like that I think he’s pretty intuitive and the appointment will have a ‘quiet patch’ 😂 I know this doesn’t help with your dilemma, and I know it can sometimes be so hard to tackle this direct with them. But I think the best suggestion you listed is the one about setting a time limit right from the beginning. That sets the bar. Being honest about not feeling chatty is a good one too, as long as you’re friendly about it and they know it’s not about them..because we’re all entitled to feel that way. They should understand.

    But a suggestion I have of my own is about letting them know you really want to enjoy the treatment and unwind, and as part of that you want to..listen to some music? Then pop in your headphones, listen to some mellow tunes, close your eyes, and then you’ve zoned out. Plus they then also think they’re playing a big part in you feeling better about yourself. It’s a win-win. Would that be an option?

    E.W., UK

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