Service of Biting Your Tongue and Keeping Your Cool

October 11th, 2021

Categories: Consideration, Constraint, Customers, Empathy, Hair Salon, Late, Manners, Rude Behavior

Image by kaleido-dp from Pixabay

Some feel that because they pay for a service or a purchase they can treat the vendor or salesperson with disrespect. I wonder how retail business owners remain sane and silent when they inevitably deal with at least one entitled, nasty, thoughtless customer/client every so often.

Here’s one: A customer flounced into a hair salon last week, marched over to the chair I was in and said to the stylist, who was in the middle of touching up my color: “I’m in a rush. I can’t be away from my office for long. My boss doesn’t want me to leave. I’ll have to reschedule unless you can you take me NOW.” [Note: She didn’t greet the stylist who also owns the salon.] Did she expect her to kick me out of the chair with half a job done, a procedure that involves timing? The stylist responded, as she continued to work on my hair, and had to repeat, because of the bombardment of the same question, “in five minutes,” as the woman paced nearby. The stylist remained cool.

Image by petitcarre from Pixabay

When suddenly the customer dashed outside to place a call I said “she is a bit much.” The beleaguered salon owner told me about a longtime client who consistently blows off three hour appointments or arrives an hour late without a peep of update. Clearing the decks for that long for a no-show represents a significant financial loss. The customer, who always confirms the appointment the night before, didn’t show twice in a row and never apologized. The last time the woman arrived at 7 pm for a 6 pm appointment at 8 pm she declared she was hungry. The stylist asked her to please call and order in to save time and she refused and left the shop, oblivious of the late hour and the staff waiting for her return to complete the work.

In another example, the owner of an antique shop in New England that specializes in small collectibles shared some recent confrontations. A woman recently looked around and announced, “Nobody wants these things anymore.” Rude? [Shortly thereafter the dealer made a several hundred dollar sale.] Another visitor started taking photos of some high-end greeting cards with clever sayings to text them to friends rather than buy [and mail] them. The dealer asked that clueless person to stop.

In the same vein, seven years ago I wrote “Service of Being a Good Customer.” I asked then and reiterate: “Have you been in the enviable position of being able to give a nasty client/customer short shrift? Do you think pushy, entitled, aggressive behavior wins in the end?”

Were you faced with thoughtless, rude or hostile conduct, how would you control your irritation so as to keep your cool and not snap back? What responsibilities do customers have to the good businesses they support?

Image by Rose McAvoy from Pixabay

4 Responses to “Service of Biting Your Tongue and Keeping Your Cool”

  1. Hussein Ahman-Uttah Said:

    I absolutely LOVE those who are stupid enough to say “Nobody wants these things anymore.”

    They can be easily convinced to sell whatever they’ve got for nothing! They positively welcome their own logic being used against their interests.

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Brilliant! I will suggest she tuck this thought in the back of her mind should someone else say this to her so that she can respond “Do you have things like this at home? I’d love to see–please send photos! Here’s my card.”

  3. lucrezia Said:

    The key is to know when to use silence as a brick-bat vs when to make noise. It’s an art difficult to achieve. Hopefully some modicum of success comes with age. It pays to take Louis XI’s (The Spider of France) advice: “He who knows not how to dissimulate can not reign.” Try to apply it to everyday problems. It usually works!

  4. Jeanne byington Said:


    As young as the hair stylist is, she used silence with the big mouth I mentioned in the post, only quietly repeating “in five minutes.” It’s a hard thing to do, as you pointed out. With some arguing is a waste of breath.

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