Family Trip for Haircuts Provide a Lesson in Listening

I went with my daughter, Alicia, and her family to get haircuts yesterday. My granddaughters are four and six years old and sometimes I tag along to make sure the girls don’t get into any trouble while their mom is getting her hair trimmed.
Also, the cosmetology school where we go, International Academy of Hair Design, is one of my public relations clients.

I like to visit the school and talk to the students, instructors and customers to see what interesting developments are taking place. Also, the school is located at Fiesta Mall in Mesa, AZ. Right below the school is an indoor playground. This is a favorite spot for the girls to play – especially in the summer time when it is too hot for outdoor fun.

My oldest granddaughter, Rosannah, has long hair. It grows quickly, but occasionally she experiences the typical childhood hair disaster – gum in her goldie locks or a misguided attempt at playing hair stylist without a license. Fortunately, she enjoys going to the award-winning beauty school and often asks me about the staff and students there. She was recently a model for the school when the producer from KPNX asked for a segment on “Creating Princess Hair.” Now Rosannah feels like she is “one of the girls.”

Rosannah is kind and observant. She is generous with her compliments and is the first to notice when I sport a new manicure or pedicure. Due to her love of beauty embellishments I have become a little more adventurous in my taste. Rather than go the traditional route (pinkish polish or French tips) I have the cosmetology students at IAHD add glittery pizzaz to my nails. My only question is why did I wait so long? Life is too short to deny myself some sparkle.

Unfortunately, Briannah, my younger granddaughter, is more skeptical of the whole beauty process. Her hair grows more slowly than her sister’s. She didn’t even need a haircut until this year. When it became necessary to have a hair cut (and not just a little bang trim) she wasn’t too thrilled about the prospect. She suggested skipping the ordeal and spending extra time in the kid’s play area instead. On one occasion she vehemently refused to cooperate. Rather than take a risk, the instructor suggested we not force the issue.

However, this time our trip to the school manifested different results. Briannah was not only willing to get her hair styled and trimmed, she was okay with getting her hair shampooed as well. Mother and daughters lined up at the shampoo bowls for hair cleansing and a scalp massage.

This got me to wondering, “Why is it women and girls enjoy going to the hair stylist?” Of course there is the obvious, to look better. This is no small thing. When we look better, we feel better. When we feel better we smile more and interact more sociably with those we meet. It creates a happy, harmonious cycle.

But it goes deeper. A good hair stylist (or cosmetology student) listens. Really listens. They pay attention to your vision of how you want to look and they do their best to make your beauty dream a reality. My 4-year-old grandchild is a case in point.

Briannah is a chatty little girl. Her cosmetology student stylist, Rosalinda, asked her preschool patron about her life. I didn’t hear the whole conversation, but as I observed from across the room I could see my youngest granddaughter enthralled in a gabfest. I’m sure she told Rosalinda about her Christmas presents, pets and even preschool. As Briannah talked, I could see Rosalinda smile and listen attentively. I’m sure the cosmetology student complimented my favorite four-year-old on her hair and beauty.

Briannah may only be four years old, but she was experiencing something so many of us crave – to be truly listened to. The preschooler came in for a new style, but she came out with more. A true test was in the final product. In addition to the haircut, Briannah had asked for a braid. The child’s hair isn’t long enough for a traditional braid, so Rosalinda created a halo-like braid around the back of Briannah’s head. This was not Alicia’s vision for her daughter (although she wasn’t opposed to the idea) it was Briannah’s idea. Rosalinda listened and like Captain Jean Luc Picard from Star Trek, the Next Generation, she demonstrated she could “make it so” and did. Needless to say, Briannah was absolutely thrilled with the results.

When everyone was coiffed and styled (including daddy Greg) the family went to a rock and mineral show at nearby Mesa Community College. I could see both of my grandchildren were satisfied with their new “look” and felt more confident. When they approached one of the rock booths they chatted up one of the vendors. I’m sure the cute little girls were a welcome sight compared to the old codgers like me who generally attend these events. Before we walked away the vendor gave each girl a free baggy full of rocks and explained what each one was.

“I go to preschool and these will be great for show and tell,” Briannah exclaimed. Her enthusiasm earned her and her sister a couple additional stones. Later, Briannah would tell me that these rocks would be part of her “collection.” Although I can’t prove it, I think Briannah’s trip to International Academy of Hair Design in Fiesta Mall, increased her self esteem. Rosalinda treated her with respect and kindness (as did Digna who took care of Rosannah’s needs) and the cosmetology students who were assigned to Alicia and Greg. Together all of the future cosmetologists created a warm and caring atmosphere, and my daughter’s family was satisfied with the experience.

However, a visit to a cosmetology school may not be for everyone. One drawback (although it can also be perceived as an advantage depending on your perspective) is the cosmetology students take their time. Speed will come with experience, but while they are learning their trade they are motivated by quality, not quantity. That said, they do not operate in a vacuum. All students perform under the supervision of a licensed instructor to ensure quality and safety.

Something I gleaned from my experience was about mutual goals. Customers come in for a service. Whether it’s a trim, hair extension, relaxer, permanent wave, color or nail service, each person has a mental image of how they want to look. The cosmetology student also has a goal and vision. He or she wants to complete their education and launch into a satisfying career where they help people look and feel great. When you combine these dual purposes you have a bonding experience where everyone’s beauty-related wishes can come true. How awesome is that?

So what’s the take-away on this story? It’s not about our hair, it’s about our ears. If we can focus on talking less and learning to listen with an open mind and heart, there is no limit to the beauty we can create in our lives.