Today I had a haircut with a Master stylist. If you're not sure what that is, I can tell you that the tip alone cost more than my last haircut, so surely I was purchasing.....something.
I felt very much welcome in spite of my jeans and t-shirt. Not overwhelmed, but welcome.
My stylist was Jamie; she was kind but I still felt a little nervous. How do you tell someone what you want to look like? How does one separate out an attractive hair style from the model wearing it? Jamie talked about face shape and hair type (genetics), lifestyle (practical considerations), and personal preferences (my level of commitment). She knew what I wanted and helped me to understand possible from unrealistic; she's a hairstylist, not a plastic surgeon.
She led the direction of the conversation; apparently I wasn't the first person to sit in a chair without a clue. Indeed, she was so skilled and nonjudgemental that I found myself admitting more than I had intended about my less than orthodox hair care techniques and products. Whatever she may have thought about what I said, she did not let on. Her acceptance allowed me to admit additional information - and surely she synthetized this information to select a style and routine that fit my needs and personal quirks. By understanding the past, she was able to create a realistic plan for the future. Maybe it wasn't her first choice, but she recognized my limitations and interests.
Without feeling like I was being interviewed, I gave her the relevant information she needed before she even picked up a pair of scissors. As the professional, she took that information and gave me a realistic goal.
Jamie passion for her work was evident, and I found myself getting an education. Not just about my own hair, but about hair in general. Her passion made me reconsider some of my own thoughts and beliefs; in a subtle way she changed me and made me more open to new ideas. Her calm, intelligent, and well thought out explanations brought out my curiousity and willingness to learn. Passion is contagious and her excitement for her field made me want to learn more - to understand where her passion came from.
Passion creates power which in turn makes influence. When one is passionate about their topic - any topic - they can draw others in by virtue of their infectious enthusiasm. Those with passions incite others to learn - to grow and change.
Whether talking about dog training, child rearing or cutting hair, the human condition is the same. Our best chances for influencing others is subtle. Quiet. Based in our passions and shared in manageable doses when the listener appears receptive. Judgement and lecture are not effective; they simply close down communication. Acceptance and listening- that creates change. Maybe slowly and a small amount at a time, but change nonetheless.
I look forward to going back; I thought Jamie was nice. I have some questions this time; harder questions. I might be ready to tell her that my favorite conditioner belongs to...my dogs. Whether she agrees with my choice or not, I bet she'll listen and give a well reasoned and thoughtful opinion.
The door to communication is open.