Carlos Valenzuela

Carlos Valenzuela

 The client clearly asks for a length right below the ear. When you finish, she says you cut her too short. You gently remind her, “Remember, I placed my comb below your earlobe and asked if this was the length you wanted?” She retaliates with a bit of anger in her voice, “That’s not what I wanted. I really am unhappy.” You back off, stay professional and apologize for “misunderstanding.” The client gets up, smiles politely, doesn’t tip and says goodbye. You are frustrated. You need a five-minute break to regroup.

You head for the breakroom. You’ve been good all week but make a couple donuts and a slice of pizza disappear without even a blink. “That client, she is going to drive me crazy” you announce as you chew and swallow. “Isn’t she the one that keeps getting into trouble with relationships?” someone asks. “Yes, she keeps getting dumped.” “She looks angry all the time and wears awful perfume or something.” “I think it’s really bad to talk about client’s issues back here,” someone says and leaves the room. “Now she,” says else says, “is a boring goodie-two shoes.”

Let’s unpack this because it’s obvious that the devil is in the breakroom: As a professional you swallow insults, arguments and, at times, a bit of shame for missing the mark on the occasional style. Imagine if you acted out your true emotions, the salon would be a mental ward. Maybe break rooms should be turned into rant rooms—a place where, for a fee, you break up things, throw stuff against the wall and let your emotions out. In the salon, you try to take the high road. There is no waiting couch with a waiting shrink to care for you. The only option is comfort food and the ear of any team member who will listen.

All your days aren’t great, uppity, positive days—you’re normal. I’ve so been there. On a down day, just take everything a little slower (I even walk and drive slower) to honor the fact that your spirit, for whatever reason, badly needs a break. The high road may be to become more aware of what’s going on with you emotionally, physically, and yes, spiritually, honor it, and take preventive steps. The long-term consequences of the devil in the break room are just not worth it.  

Watch out for emotional eating. It doesn’t have to be anger or frustration—being really happy also makes me want Pizza Hut and eat it all by myself. Every day, after work, I would stop by the supermarket to get “something” for dinner (cookies?). I never realized I was destressing from work. I no longer make the stop and take a walk. More unbelievable for me, I actually bring my lunch and snacks to the salon! My friends are bewildered and confused, yes. 

Gossip in the backroom will always be engaging for some. There’s little you can do about this devil, really. If someone is a gossip, they will talk about others in their sleep because this is their view of life. Try to stop it and you are the next victim. I do firmly believe gossip is evil and follow this rule: never say anything about someone that you wouldn’t say if they were standing next to you listening. You say it bothers you to think the devil in the breakroom may be cutting you up right about now? Keep this in mind: anyone with principles, talent and any measure of success will be criticized. Gossip means you made it. So, take it as a compliment And, no donuts.

Carlos Valenzuela is as a Hairdresser/educator, ex-salon & school owner, author and corporate spokesperson with forty-five years of beauty experience. His focus today is guiding salon professionals in developing a fulfilling career & lifestyle via seminars, live events and with his podcast “Tiny Steps for salon professionals.”   Instagram,  Facebook  and Twitter: @CarlosV51839557