What Would You Do: Politics In The Salon
WWYD: Politics In The Salon
Politics in the salon, yes or no? With a global pandemic and an upcoming presidential election, there’s A LOT on everyone’s minds right now—and many stylists are divided on the topic of talking about political opinions with clients. One of our fam reached out with some concerns on how political talk will escalate as salons start to reopen. Keep scrolling to hear what the BTC community had to say on both sides, plus some strategies for respectfully redirecting conversations if necessary.
“Good afternoon, I was wondering if you could ask the community for guidance on this, anonymously of course. I’ve always struggled with discussing politics in the salon, but even more so now that I’m a studio renter. I get so sick of clients’ political opinions, especially when they are hot-button topics, but have trouble coming up with the proper way to shut it down respectfully. I’d like to have some tools to deal with it, especially with the coronavirus and upcoming election! How does everyone deal with clients discussing politics in the salon?”
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Stuck in a conversation? You can be respectful of your clients’ opinions without engaging in political talk. Here are some creative strategies for changing the subject!
“You know what, I just listen and find a way to change the subject like, ‘Hey, how was that last vacation you were on again or how are your grandkids/kids doing?’ Just choose to stay positive because in this business that we all love so much, everyone has an opinion, even we do. We just have to try [to] tread lightly. Unfortunately all the talk is going to be about this virus. Stay positive, stay strong.” – @melissarushdoony
“As a stylist, one of the best skills you can develop is the ability to change topics of conversation and the additional ability to not to let it get under your skin, especially if you’re an empath. Sometimes you have to listen without offering [an] opinion. I’ve found over the [past 25] years that most people stop talking when you do. I have clients that put me in a zone…get some music going or a small TV.” – Michele Smith
“Redirect, redirect, redirect! Let them speak their mind and then take a slight pause and start a completely new topic. You let them say their piece, but your silence and redirection of the conversation speaks volumes!” – Jayna Griffith-Horine
“I always let them finish the conversation alone—I don’t add to it and then move the conversation into a different direction usually by saying something about their hair. People like to talk about their hair. You have the power to direct the conversation in the chair. Don’t be rude, just move on to another topic gracefully by asking them other questions about their lives, plans for the upcoming weekend or how their family is!” – Meghan Strobel
“I tend to let them express their feelings and their views, listen, then if they ask for my personal opinion, I just say that’s something I don’t get involved in and then change the subject or turn the focus back onto them. Most of the time they want to just vent their frustrations and feelings and we are just a sounding board.” – @samanthasarahloves
“Even if I agree, I try my best not to converse. Don’t create a dialogue. Tone of voice is key here. Keep it light. Just say “yeeeeaaah” or anything really short but in a sweet tone. If they are loud and disturbing others, that’s when I’ve seen coworkers, privately and quietly, tell the client, ‘I really don’t want to talk about politics. I just don’t care that much for them,’ even though her opinion was the same as the clients. Always try to change the subject. I miss when no one talked about politics and it was considered rude.” – @_katelynstepp
“Typically when a client discusses anything I’m uncomfortable with I just change the subject and ask them an unrelated question about their kids, a vacation, etc. Works like a charm. 😉” – @sarahsataloff
Is there a no-politics policy in your salon? You’re not alone!
“I’m very much into politics, but I refuse to speak [about] it in the salon with clients. So any time a client likes to bring it up I kindly say, ‘I’m so sorry. I have a rule of not discussing politics behind the chair. Regardless if we see eye to eye. Some conversations can get too intense. I’m not in the business of losing clients.’ Works like a charm every time! It’s all in the delivery and tone. Be sincere. Speak kindly. Never get offensive, even if the client is speaking [the] opposite of your beliefs.” – Heather J. Ouellette
“Three things to NOT discuss in my playbook [are] politics, religion and Covid-19. Any time a client brings it up, I instantly say, ‘Forget politics! How are you? How’s everything with your haircare?’ Instantly change any topic that involves opinions. Too much stress in the real world to deal with debates during bleaching.” – @larackay
“I’m straightforward in my chair. As soon as someone tries, it’s as easy as saying, ‘I don’t talk politics, religion, and depending in some situations, not even football.’ Never had an issue. Especially adding the football part it actually gets them laughing and off topic real quick and right away it turns to sports, but I mainly deal with men being a barber. But I swear it works.” – Victoria Lynn Young
“I have a client that would ALWAYS talk about politics when she was in the chair. I would causally change the subject but she’d return back to it. Finally one day I told her that I respect her a lot but I don’t like discussing politics in my work place. It’s not only uncomfortable for me but can be for other clients sharing the same space. I asked her if she respected me then I would appreciate never having to have this discussion again. She’s never brought up politics again. Still comes in loyally like clockwork.” – Jose Garcia
“I have a no politics policy posted. Violators will be charged double. No exceptions. One warning but that’s literally me saying, ‘Don’t forget about the policy or I will charge you double.’ I don’t have the energy for it so I just don’t deal with it.” – Chelly Harrell
“I made little shelf talkers with cute sayings that you could put in a frame that would make it clear you don’t want to discuss this but also lighten the moment a little.” – @independentstylistpodcast
“This is an absolute no-no for me. There have literally been screaming matches in the salon I work at during the last presidential election. This year, I may actually put a little sign on my station. Not many of my clients talk about politics in my chair. but when they do, they’re pretty passionate. I usually just change the subject.” – @balayagedbybelle
“Politics has no place in the salon. It has nothing to do with being professional or not, it can be a hot topic and opinions vary greatly. This is something I avoid altogether because in these times it can go from zero to offensive in a snap and I don’t want that especially where I work. It’s hard enough with coworkers who have strong feelings about it but add random clients or regulars, it can make it frustrating not to mention tense. I shut it down right away.” – David J. Ortiz
Your salon is a safe space for clients—this means any conversation is welcome. Just keep it respectful!
“People will be venting and the salon is their safe space. I just smile and keep doing what I’m being paid to do, make them beautiful. Everyone will have their own perspective, formed from their own life experiences. You can learn from them and grow your own body of knowledge or ignore and forgive them for being so ignorant.” – @heidischmoe
“I couldn’t care less if people discussed politics in my chair. It’s their opinion. I just keep doing my job.” – Laurie Lynn
“Unless its something I agree with whole heartedly, I usually just nod and let them talk. Sometimes people just want to vent to us about what they’re feeling. If I don’t agree with their political views, no reason to tell them. I will usually try to change the subject when there’s a way to do so if I’m feeling uncomfortable.” – Lauren Sweenor
“Open communication like this is welcomed in my salon because my clients are teachers, bankers, lawyers, moms and bartenders. They’ve all been affected and they all want to tell their story and want to be heard. As a team member this was really uncomfortable working with lots of people. As a suite operator, it’s now a cornerstone and tenant of my business. Clients will talk about what is relevant to them. The best thing to do is stay informed and try to navigate from a place of love and positivity. They’ll appreciate your openness and vulnerability on a lot of delicate issues. But do not dismiss them. They’ll feel that hard. I guarantee it.” – Dana Wexler
“I think talking about important things like religion and politics in the salon is a healthy way for clients to say what they think without you having to argue with them if you disagree. I let my clients vent and will only engage if they ask what my opinion is on a subject. We have mutual respect for each other’s beliefs.” – Melissa Emily Kelley
“So sad to me that people can’t discuss the future of our country [and] their opinions without people getting angry about it. I think politics is a great topic and I love hearing opposing views—I may just learn from them. HOWEVER, since a lot of people can’t keep it cordial, I just let them say what they want and nod my head (whether I agree or not) and then change subjects.” – @_snarkypeach
“I always agree with [clients] when they talk politics, could be republicans [or] democrats or liberals! To be honest, I don’t care about their views. All I want is for them to feel good about their visit and come back again!” – @mandana__ca
“I feel honored that my clients feel comfortable to share their opinions. I don’t always agree with them nor do lead on that I do if I don’t. We all attract people with similar energy. We as professional conversationalists are full of wit and banter to keep things light or serious with respect for our fellow human. In this day and time of pandemic, it is important to remember people just want you to listen to their hardships. Unfortunately most of the hardships have been brought to us because of the virus with the extension of the political insanity that is 2020. Above all, be yourself with kindness. Your clients love you.” – Vicki Tew
Always remember, know your audience! Every client relationship is different.
“The first thing they taught me in cosmetology school way back when was, don’t talk politics or religion. Ive been in this business for so long. I know who I can and can’t talk politics with. I [know] my audience. I feel very strongly about certain things and there’s clients who I can not say anything to. Then there’s the clients I can talk to about things. You’ll figure out that balance. If you don’t want to have anything to do with it, change the subject, plain and simple.” – @jessica_salerno_
“As you age in this industry, so will your clientele. Your conversations and topics will and SHOULD change and become more adult as you mature. But as a very wise person told me, ‘Always know your audience.’ That’s the most important knowledge to have when it comes to the discussions you have in the salon and outside of your professional work environment. Know your audience.” – @graytunabeard
To read every response, check out the original Facebook post and Instagram post.