Talking to Myself

Are people really getting worse at their communication skills? Or am I getting old?

It seems that people ask me questions, but then lose interest before I’ve had a chance to answer: “How was your trip?” “What’s the difference between acrylic and gel?” “Does this look malignant?”

OK, I don’t think I’ve ever been asked to diagnose a tumor. But the point is, we’re talking about open-ended questions. Things that require lengthy, in-depth answers. Not simple yes-or-no stuff.

Some days I’m very good at shrugging it all off and chalking it up to generational differences. When people ask about my personal life and then change the subject as soon as I start talking, it might hurt my feelings, but ultimately all it tells me is that this person isn’t genuinely interested in me. That’s fine, we’ll talk about them.

But all too often lately, they aren’t listening to the information I’m giving them that relates to their services. They ask about different services and products, then don’t listen to the answer. They ask my professional opinion about products, the health and safety of services, how to care for and maintain their nails — and don’t pay attention to the information they’ve asked for.

Not every question has a simple answer. I can’t dumb down everything.

Is it the result of our increasingly over-stimulating culture? Too many noises, too many flashing colors and moving pictures? Are people so used to Google guessing what they meant that they no longer feel the importance of making an effort to communicate clearly?

Is it the result of a generation of clients who learned the nail industry from salons with substandard service and poor quality product? Where the people working don’t make an effort to communicate with their clients? To the degree that now a huge number of salon clients no longer respect the “professional” in their salon professionals?

I can see that. If every salon you’ve ever gone to has been staffed by people who don’t, won’t, or can’t communicate with you, can’t answer your questions about products and services, and tell you one thing and do another, then you end up learning everything you need to know about nail services from Yahoo Answers (!!!) and we end up with a consumer base that has tuned us out. They may ask us questions, but they’ve already learned that we won’t know what we’re talking about —they’re really just making small talk.

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