Stephanie Hodges has fun in the midst of chaos. "This was last year after we got our last guest...

Stephanie Hodges has fun in the midst of chaos. "This was last year after we got our last guest out the door for New Years Eve," she says. "I always breathe and smile and try to be empathetic. After a bad day I go home and love on my dogs. They are ALWAYS happy to see me and take my stress away."


Someone borrowed and didn’t return your tools, the towels are half-damp and unfolded in the drier, your first client showed up late (with Starbucks for herself but not you!)—little things can add up to big things fast when you’re in a mood.

It’s not always easy to keep the smile on your face during a long day working on clients at the salon. But a cranky mood can throw off the whole day, and impact your relationship with your manager, coworkers and, most importantly, clients.

“Mood matters more than anything!” says Britny Bassett, a colorist in Richmond, Virginia. “Your clients can feel and read into your emotions. If you’re having a bad day, they feel that, and it affects your appointment with them. Just as when you’re confident, your clients feel that! It makes them feel safe and secure in your hands.”

With the busiest time of the year fast approaching, we asked our MODERN SALON Artist Connective members and our audience  techniques for attitude improvement.

Hannah Menor, a San Diego-based stylist and salon owner, says cranking up music can quickly turn around a bad mood and keep the atmosphere fun. “We will pick throw backs or pick genres that we know everyone is going to have fun with,” Menor says.

Casey Powell, an updo specialist, says fake it ‘til you make it. “Sometimes I sneak to the bathroom and smile at yourself in the mirror until it’s real—it works!” she says. Ontario balayage specialist @sarabotsfordhair agrees. “You will feel ridiculous enough to turn your mood around!”

Caralee Pridemore, a bridal specialist and updo educator in Dayton, Ohio, says when she’s working on a wedding party and starts to feel overwhelmed, she remembers that with each look she finishes it’s one step closer to the finish line. “I remember that I’ll be on to the next thing shortly, then I replay Eye of the Tiger in my head over and over again,” she laughs.

Gilad Goldstein, an Ulta Beauty design team member in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, says the easiest way to turn your mood around during a tough day is to have a quick pow wow with a co-worker. “I feel better once I get my feelings off my chest to a coworker, and it helps me to get over my attitude so I can focus on giving my clients a good salon experience!” Goldstein says. “Just make sure you do this in the back room!”

In addition to music, says Melissa Eppers, a creative colorist in Marietta, Georgia, take the time for small happy and healthy snacks to boost your energy. “Staying hydrated is a key for me in preventing a bad mood,” says Sadie Gray, a Santa Rosa, California-based colorist.

“Clients are paying us to make this time about them, not our own bad mood.”

Keep almonds, walnuts or a banana in your bag to avoid the temptation to grab “something quick,” which can translate to foods that make you feel bad physically and mentally. A bonus? Having snacks that are healthy will curb the hanger and help you avoid the inevitable holiday treat breakroom extravaganza.

“I like to take a quick walk up the street to go get a cup of coffee,” says Sarah Malinda, an updo artist in St. Louis. Even just a quick breath of fresh air (note: sans nicotine!) can be just the ingredient needed for fresh perspective. But take it easy on caffeine. Too much can cause dehydration and anxiety.

“Change of scenery always gets me in a better mood,” says Erin Mills, salon owner in Orlando. “My mood dictates how happy my clients are so it’s always important to be ‘on.’ They can feel it when I’m not, just like I can with them.”

What about when the client is in a bad mood?

“It’s part of our job description to make our chair a safe space in that if a client is in a bad mood, we need to let them know that it’s okay,” Gray says. “I put my hands gently on the outsides of their shoulders and then just start touching their hair; and I reassure them that it’s okay to vent to me. That starts to turn things around. They vent, they feel understood and heard, and then it just starts turning around.”

When Ashlie Marmo, a blonding expert in Pennsylvania is working on a client who seems a little grumpy, she feels them out to see if they seem like they want to talk about it or if they don’t want to be bothered.

“I just let them relax and make them coffee,” she says. “By the end of the appointment, no matter how they were feeling when they came in, they feel a lot better when they leave. I’ve had clients cry in the past after their hair was done because they appreciated the time I took on them to make them feel beautiful. That’s the best feeling.”

“During wedding parties, if I am really struggling, especially with a large party, inevitably the dad walks in, bald, and says ‘what are you gonna do with this?’ as he lifts off his hat,” Pridemore says. “I literally die every time! Jokes always help.”

Aly Davis, a stylist in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, says compliments can help. “I can always tell when my client is in a bad mood so rather than trying to mirror that, I try to let them know I’m here for them and genuinely compliment them,” she says.

Erin Cheney, a stylist in Costa Mesa, California, agrees. “I try to pump them up with compliments about their hair, outfit, etc. All distraction from whatever is causing their bad day,” she says. “Or, I ask them about future travel plans/next vacation because that excites them.

Your extra time and energy can go a long way. Sabrena Handley of Winfield, Alabama, says she will do a little “extra” for her clients when she can tell they’re having a bad day. Scalp massages, a longer shampoo at the bowl, or even just staying quiet. “Sometimes they just need to chill,” she says. “Oh, and a glass of wine always helps.”

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Originally posted on Modern Salon