The Emotional Connection
By ASCP Staff
Our work as estheticians is built on emotional connections. Our clients’ emotions are involved from the first moment they walk through the spa door. Those emotions will become stronger each time they book a service with you and spend more time with you. We, in turn, also develop an emotional bond with our clients. We need to be cautious to stay safe in our professional relationships and communications without being overcome by emotions.
Spa work has a powerful emotional nature. Consider this:
- We chose the skin care profession because we have a caring, nurturing nature and a desire to help make our clients’ lives better.
- Clients are placed in a vulnerable situation when they are lying on your bed wearing only a wrap, and a virtual stranger is touching their face, hands, and décolleté.
- After your client overcomes the initial vulnerability, the personal, intimate, one-on-one nature of skin care services allows clients to feel safe with a trusted person.
- In the safe, quiet atmosphere of your treatment room, clients will tend to open up with personal issues during your service. Everyone has an inherent need to be heard without personal bias. When you’ve applied a mask on your client, and you’re sitting quietly next to them, it’s an opportunity for them to talk about their personal lives.
- The emotional bond is even stronger for regular clients who book frequent appointments and have been coming to you for years.
Unfortunately, beauty schools don’t generally teach students how to navigate healthy, intelligent relationships in an emotion-filled environment. This important skill can affect your business success.
As estheticians, our clients often entrust us with sensitive personal information about the issues in their lives. Sometimes the boundaries become blurred of how much we in turn should share with our clients. Always remember that you are the professional; you need to refrain from sharing too much personal information.
The emotional intimacy of the spa is a space for clients that, more than most any other profession, demands personal discretion and professional integrity from you. Both new estheticians and seasoned skin care professionals alike need to carefully navigate this space. Use healthy, mindful, and respectful forms of communication, while keeping professional and ethical boundaries in mind.
Considerations and Precautions
Dale Carnegie said, “When dealing with people, let us remember we are not dealing with creatures of logic. We are dealing with creatures of emotion.”
We all handle interpersonal relationships, communication, and boundaries in our business lives, just as we do in our personal lives. They are not that different. Yet, there are several key factors estheticians should keep in mind.
- Sometimes our services can bring some deep emotions to the surface for our clients. If you have a client with intense emotional issues that may require professional help, refer out. Don’t try to give them advice. Most clients love having someone listen to them talk, but in certain situations, the simple act of listening can have negative implications. You don’t want to be tempted to be a counselor, which is outside your scope of practice. You also don’t want to overshare deeply personal information that may change the dynamic between you and the client in the future.
- There are some definite red flags to be aware of no matter who initiates the communication: sexual advances, gossip, negativity, and sharing others’ confidences. Trust your gut. Not everyone out there is safe to listen to or share with. In some cases, you may even need to stop the service.
- Remember to put business first. While we might think of some of our clients as friends, it is your job to stay in your professional role by guiding conversations in directions that are appropriate to the setting and situation. This can protect both your livelihood and your brand.
Connection and Community
We see many benefits when we develop a relationship with a client over time. Our clients develop trust and loyalty, and we are better able to serve the client when we are more familiar with them and their skin care needs. We can also enjoy great personal satisfaction in providing a safe, caring, and nurturing place where people can escape from stress and improve their skin.
Our clients are looking for a sense of connection, community, and caring that goes beyond just the skin care services we offer. We are uniquely positioned to offer our guests a respite from physical and emotional stress through safe and nurturing touch, a listening ear, and a place to connect and heal. And when we do, we’ll enjoy the heart-to-heart connection that will make our clients loyal for life.
How can I best deal with an emotional client?
- Keep your cool . . . always.
- Acknowledge their feelings.
- Wait for the calm.
- Practice active listening.
- Find common ground.
- Establish control with facts.
- Try to stop potential problems before they start.
How can I help my client when they get overly emotional?
Ask what they’re feeling and let them know you want to understand how they feel. Don’t say you know how they feel if you don’t. Let them know it’s okay to express emotion, but don’t try to combat their emotions with logic. You may just need to step aside for a minute and allow them time to take a few calming breaths to get their emotions under control.
What is meant by professional boundaries?
Professional boundaries are the legal, ethical, and organizational framework that protects both clients and workers from physical and emotional harm and helps maintain a safe working environment. They are based on your beliefs, thoughts, feelings, decisions, choices, wants, needs, and intuitions.