Whether you are a hairstylist, a cosmetologist, or nail technician, your career requires the ability to talk easily for hours with all kinds of people—some of whom don’t have great people skills themselves.
So to help out those of us who might feel a little shy or awkward sometimes (which to be honest is most of us), we’ve assembled some advice for all of you with careers full of small talk.
Psychology Today suggests that there is a difference between being introverted and lacking confidence. They note two kinds of confidence that everyone needs to succeed in a conversation: confidence in your abilities, and confidence in your likeability. If you struggle making small talk, it might help to do some introspection and decide if you need to work on these areas. If not, you may just need to remind yourself to talk more than you usually do while you work.
If your confidence does need a boost, you might consider giving yourself the following pieces of advice (these are adapted from this article from Forbes.)
- The anxiety is from me and my beliefs and others are not going to analyze this conversation. They will just enjoy talking to me.
- What’s the worst that could happen? At least, this practice making small talk will make me better at my job.
- Labels don’t define me. I’m an interesting, worthy person with a lot to contribute.
- We are both going to be together for the next hour or two. If I strike up a conversation with that person, he or she will probably be glad to have someone to talk to.
- I will reward myself for all of this small talk with a quiet evening on the couch, watching my favorite movie.
If you have confidence, but you just need a little help getting great conversations started, you might try this tip I learned from my stylist: Make notes about each of your clients so that you can follow up on the things you talked about at your last appointment. My stylist took a minute or two to type up these notes on her iPad.
This way, you aren’t starting from nothing, and your clients will be impressed that you listened closely during your last chat.
Remember that, as an introvert, you have a lot to offer to your clients and to the world. You might be a better listener and more empathetic with your clients. You might be more understanding if an introverted client isn’t very chatty.
Introverts are in good company. Check out this list of famous and successful introverts. (Rosa Parks, Emma Watson, and Audrey Hepburn all make the list.)
So go forth. Do your best, and let your clients and the world benefit from hearing you speak.