Some clients leave you drained and stressed out. I call them toxic clients because their way has an unexplainable heaviness. The claim that they are well-meaning eludes me and does not
diminish their impact—you just want to quit and go home. It busts up your day and is unfair to your next clients and reputation, who only see the tired version of you.
Starting out, you must be more tolerant when first building a clientele. Don’t believe anyone who says abusive behavior is part of the job. It can happen, but it is not common, and you should not accept it. Please remember this every day in the salon: you, not anyone else, teach people how to treat you. Respect your personal and professional boundaries and require others to do the same.
Here are a few tips for identifying and dealing with toxic clients:
Keep a cool head, and never let them see you sweat. I had to work on this one because I’ve always reacted strongly to any form of abuse. I learned to breathe in, remember it’s just an
hour, and focus on how nice it will be when they are gone.
Toxic clients push your limits, so establish your service boundaries with all clients from the first appointment, including your availability, pricing, and services you will provide. Be firm but polite in communicating your limits, and stick to them even if the client pushes back.
Don't be afraid to say no. This is another big item I had to work on. Say no when a client makes unreasonable demands or asks you to do something against your values or expertise. Be polite but firm, offer alternative solutions, or recommend someone else.
Fire them. This one is really scary, but I did it, and it always worked out for the best. If you are considering it, then the client is way over the toxic threshold. Go with your gut and terminate the relationship altogether. My client was not surprised when I suggested she find another stylist. She, too, knew it was best.
Establish Your Quiet Ritual: Have a place you retreat to, if only for a few minutes, where you feel at peace and the day melts away. Mine is walking with my headphones. Go there at the end of the day. You are always and forever your best client.
Carlos Valenzuela is a bilingual writer and a past global beauty educator with a master's in international business. He writes about positivism and success for Modern Salon. and is the author of the multi-award-winning novella Letters to Young Carlos and its sequel, Camaleón: The Lost Years Living in the Closet.
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