On Barbershops

Visiting the barbershop used to fill me with anxiety as a teen. I was an awkward teenager that didn’t like small talk and often ended up with bad haircuts. To hide my embarrassment, I’d keep my hood up for the entire week at school - that is, until the teacher made me take it off. Unfortunately, my new style would draw all the attention in the classroom and my confidence would plummet. Thankfully, my hair grows fast so I could soon forget the experience.

I started to enjoy my haircuts when I knew what haircut I wanted and clearly communicated it to my barber. If I saw them doing something wrong, I’d point it out and ask questions to ensure I was getting the desired result. Even showing pictures to further convey the haircut I wanted. Additionally, I took the time to get to know my barber and their story, eventually considering them a friend.

Now, I look forward to my haircuts. In Toronto, my barber knows me by name, and when I sit in his chair, I tell him, the usual please,” and he knows exactly what to do. My New York barber is getting there. The last haircut he remembered my name. You got to celebrate the small wins right? In a digital world, a barber is a relationship that is intimate, as it’s thirty minutes of uninterrupted time to converse, yet distant, as barbershop talk usually isn’t deep.

I’ve learned the importance of clear communication from my experiences at the barbershop. Making my desires known at the start and offering helpful guidance enables me to get what I want. This lesson applies well beyond the barbershop - it’s crucial to articulate my needs to anyone - be it barbers, managers or colleagues - since they can’t read my mind.

March 2, 2023

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