No matter how much you love your job and your clients, every now and then you’re going to have one of those days when you want to run from the salon and never come back. You know, those days when every client seems to have the same agenda — to annoy and aggravate.
It may be the client who runs late, who can’t decide on a color, or can’t articulate what she wants. It may be the no-show or the non-tipper. Regardless of the particular irritation, you’re in a service industry and you’re expected to maintain your smile. This is not always easy, but it is possible.
“I always keep a smile on my face, no matter what,” says Tawana Yanez, owner of Show Us Your Tips in Henderson, Nev. “It not only helps me keep my attitude in check, it also disguises my irritation with the situation.” Apparently, her efforts have been a success. Yanez has been awarded the Best of Henderson Nail Salon by the Henderson Chamber of Commerce for four years in a row.
Yanez’s daughter, Kamille De Ville, owner of Hotel de Ville Nails in Las Vegas says that her experience with a particularly difficult client has put all other annoyances in perspective. “One day, as a new tech, I had a walk-in customer,” she recalls. “Besides appearing to be heavily medicated, the client asked for candy, then threw the wrappers into the middle of the floor. She nodded off, kept changing her mind, and needed five smoke breaks during the session. If that wasn’t enough, she required a restroom break, then asked for help unbuttoning her pants and getting her underwear down.”
As with her daughter, difficult situations don’t fluster Yanez anymore. “What once would get my panties all in a bunch now just sets me back a little — with a smile firmly planted on my face,” she says. “I still have bad days like anyone else. And regardless of the reason, I need to have outlets to deal with my frustrations so that I can unwind, decompress, and renew.” Her favorite methods, she says, are exercise, essential oils, aromatherapy, talking to another nail tech, laughing, and reading.
To help you find your own moments of Zen, here are 10 tools to help you keep smiling.
Affirmations are short, positive statements that define what you want and help focus your energy in that direction. Author and self-help guru Louise Hay suggests many affirmations that might benefit the harried nail tech, including these:
> I speak with loving words.
> I am patient, tolerant, and diplomatic.
> I flow easily with new experiences, new challenges, and new people who enter my life.
Use her affirmations or create your own, making them specific for your situation. Yanez’ personal motto would also make a great affirmation: “I give every client in my chair the best I have to offer.”
2. Be gentle with yourself
Sometimes, we’re hardest on ourselves. On bad days we don’t always respond with courtesy. Our frustration overwhelms us and we utter words we shouldn’t, or behave badly. Don’t beat yourself up. Tomorrow is another day. Be kind and gentle with yourself.
3. Connect with nature
Nature soothes the wild beast — and that includes us. While long walks through the forest and relaxing weekends on the beach restore our soul and give us peace, they’re usually not feasible on a daily basis. Is there a spot in your backyard that offers serenity? Is there a park nearby where you can eat your lunch and recharge? Even a small courtyard area, perhaps with a tree or a fountain, can offer an area of respite.
4. Count to 10
Once we enter the grown-up world of working for a living, we forget this little trick. Can you duck into the restroom for a moment? Or back to the stockroom to retrieve a supply? Stand for a moment. Be still. And count to 10. If you can’t physically leave the stressful situation, quiet yourself. Don’t say a word. Mentally count to 10.
Exercise is one of Yanez’ favorite stress relievers. She reminds us you don’t have to work out at the gym or run around the track. “You can go for a swim with your kids at the water park like I do every weekend,” she says. “Just get your blood pumping and be active. It’s good for the soul.”
6. Healthy diet
Watching what we eat and making healthy choices in our diet is an important tool in combatting stress. According to holistic wellness expert Dr. Andrew Weil, “Increasing physical activity and eating healthy can do wonders for your ability to manage stress. Regular physical activity and a healthy diet can improve weight, energy levels, self-confidence, and overall health and well-being, making it much easier for you to handle daily stressors.” Can you replace any fast-food meals or sugar-laden, caffeinated sodas with healthier choices? Small steps are better than no steps.
7. Look for the good
Looking for the good increases our joy and gratitude and enhances our overall quality of life. Can you find the good in a no-show? Yanez can. She uses the unexpected downtime to do her own nails, clean the salon, or even make phones calls on her to-do list. Then she doesn’t feel like she’s wasting time.
Meditation can give a sense of calm and peace, reducing stress and benefiting our emotional well-being and overall health. The emotional benefits can include increasing your ability to manage stress, reducing negative emotions, and gaining a new perspective on stressful situations. De Ville often meditates, allowing no interruptions while she decompresses in silence.
This nifty little trick still works. Reward yourself with treats. If I don’t say the ugly things I want to say, I’ll treat myself to [reward of your choice]. If I remain pleasant for one week, I’ll treat myself to [an even bigger reward]. What positive traits do you want to reinforce? What negative behaviors can you diminish? What treats will tempt you? Start with an easy goal. You know yourself better than anyone else. Think about the rewards that would reinforce smiling through your appointments.
10. Walk around the block
Sometimes just getting away from the salon environment is the break that maintains sanity. If you can get a quick break between clients, walk around the block or the shopping center.
That’s 10 different ways to count to 10 and de-stress. Throughout the day it’s you and the client, sitting across from one another. You can’t control what she does or how she acts. You can control your reactions. Keep smiling. At the end of the day, you go home happier with yourself, and leaving with a smile on your face is always the best reward.
Trisha Faye is a freelance writer based in Roanoke, Texas.