Generally speaking, nail techs are positive people. The nature of the job demands we be excited, energetic, and caring. But there are times when the pressures of the salon begin to wear us down, and often this is reflected in our attitude. When these seasons come — and they will — we have a decision to make: We can let the negativity permeate into our mood, or we can choose to focus on the positive because we know the season will pass. Our decision will determine our success, both in business and in life.

“Learn how to respond, not react, to life,” says Geno Stampora, salon owner and motivational speaker to the beauty industry. Stampora says it is impossible to avoid ruts in life, so the key is to make them useful. Most importantly, maintain an attitude of gratitude during all times in life so that the low times in life do not consume you.

Focus on the Good

No matter how unpleasant the circumstances are at work, there is always something good to celebrate: The sun is shining, you get a call from a friend, or a favorite client is coming in tomorrow. While these things may not seem worthy of celebration, by purposefully focusing on things that do bring you happiness, you won’t be letting negative thoughts marinate in your mind. It’s important to choose to think positively and reject the negative because what we think about is what comes out in our conversations.

As a nail tech, you cannot allow negativity to dominate your conversations with clients. It is unprofessional, and it will cost you money. “If our attitude is bad, and we share the wrong things with clients, they will eventually say ‘I’m outta here’,” says Stampora. “You get paid for a good attitude, but you pay for a negative attitude.”

If focusing on the good is difficult for you, do not get discouraged — it is a habit that can be learned. Author Anne Serdula gives suggestions on how to develop this habit. In her book, “Healing Truths,” Serdula encourages her readers to start a gratitude journal. Pick up an attractive journal reserved specifically to list blessings in your life. Each night, discipline yourself to write one thing that happened at work that made you feel grateful, made you laugh, or that you enjoyed. At first it will start off small and sporadic, but eventually you’ll realize you have a lot of beautiful things to be thankful for — in spite of very real things that bother you. But by choosing to focus on the good, you will appreciate the small gifts you receive every day.

Maureen Volpe, founder of the Volpe Nails franchise, recommends focusing on the good in each client. “Clients will run you ragged, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed by that, but choose to look at each client as a compliment,” says Volpe, who notes that after the first few appointments with the client, the client is not choosing you for your work, but for the relationship.

Focusing on this acceptance, appreciation, and affirmation from your clients will cause you to feel grateful during the appointment. Volpe recommends talking to yourself before each client. Say things like, “This client is here to spend time with me, and she deserves my best.” Seeing each client as an individual and treating her like she is your first, your best, appointment of the day will stop you from being overwhelmed.

Focus on a Goal

A goal doesn’t need to be financial, but it does need to be measurable. It’s hard to get excited about putting your energy into achieving a new goal if you won’t be able to know for sure that you’ve gotten there. What is your goal? To go to two new classes this year, to increase your clientele by two clients a week, to reduce your workday by an hour? Each person will have a different goal, but pick one that motivates you. Define your goal and focus on achieving it.

Theresa Benker had a grand vision for her salon, but she broke it down into smaller, specific goals. Originally from Owego, N.Y., Benker eventually moved to Raleigh, N.C. On her visits home, she recalls watching the women walk up and down Main Street. “Here were all these women walking around in flannels with no makeup, but you could see they were beautiful,” Benker says. Then she saw her vision, “I wanted to make Owego and surrounding Tioga County beautiful,” she laughs. The first thing she did was rent a storefront on Main Street, remodel it, and decorate it to rival the upscale boutiques clients could only find if they traveled to the city. She named the salon “The Haircolor Café” not because she served lattés, but because she wanted the salon to have the feel of a meeting place — like a coffee shop. Clients will stop in even without an appointment just because the feel of the salon is so open and welcoming.

While Benker had a broad vision for the salon, she also set specific goals. “I had a three-year plan,” says Benker. “First, I wanted to create a quality salon with enough appeal and professionalism that the women in town who were leaving to get salon services done in the city would want to stay,” she says. Benker’s second goal was to develop such a reputation that the women from the city would hear about her and travel to her salon. What she set as a three-year goal is already materializing. In only three months clients are traveling to her salon from surprising distances.

Keep It to Yourself

There are times when a tech does focus on the good and does set goals, and yet she still has trouble keeping her attitude positive. “It’s normal to be negative or have a poor attitude,” says Stampora. This is no excuse to spread your bad attitude. “Keep it to yourself,” advises Stampora. “As a professional, act as if you are happy to see a client and be in the salon. Customers equate passion to expertise, so you must appear to be passionate about your profession.”

But even while you are choosing to have a good attitude and never letting the clients know you are approaching burnout, evaluate your position. Maybe you are legitimately coming to the end of your reserves. Since the job is so personal and the demands we put on ourselves are so rigid, we must take breaks from the salon.

Other ways to combat the burnout is to get control of your schedule. “Define a schedule for yourself and your clients,” says Volpe. That means if you only want to work an eight-hour day, cross off the other hours.

The point is: Decide what your limits are and work within them. It isn’t fair to get mad at the client for coming in for an appointment you scheduled. If you don’t want to work late, don’t schedule the appointment. If you know you need a lunch and an afternoon walk in the sun, schedule an hour off for lunch and leave the salon. Don’t sit and chit chat with the client right before lunch, either, so that your lunch is tick-tick-ticking away while your client’s nails are drying. Politely excuse yourself and take your scheduled time off.

It’s also important to pamper yourself. Schedule a massage; get a pedicure in a different salon so you can relax, and don’t let the pedicurist know you are in the business or you could be talking shop during the whole appointment.

Set some new goals; examine your commitment to your clients, and recommit to your goals. Identify what you hate about your job that is causing you to want to shut down and stop giving. Identify why you hate it. List all the wonderful, rewarding aspects of being a nail tech and focus on these things. Ultimately, you have control on how you respond to the pressure. You have the power to give yourself a complete attitude makeover.

4 Fundamentals for a Positive Attitude

1 Always be up about who you are and what you do. Don’t talk about negative news.

2 Have a total commitment to your customers. Don’t answer the phone or get distracted; treat every client like the only client.

3 Always be excited. Excitement is contagious. Be excited about life and the future.

4 Don’t make excuses. There is no excuse for showing clients a bad mood. There is no excuse for not being successful.

— Geno Stampora

8 Steps to Bring out the Best in Yourself

1. Learn to focus on what matters. Do less better.

2. Prepare for success and the future.

3. Practice being where you are; live in the moment.

4. Value and nurture relationships that matter most to your life.

5. Develop a positive, motivated attitude.

6. Focus on solutions.

7. Practice being thankful.

8. Become a student of life. Then become a teacher.

— Geno Stampora

Michelle Pratt is a freelance writer and licensed nail tech based in Johnson City, N.Y.

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