What I learned from my hair stylist about making friends

When you’re a kid, making friends is pretty easy. From school, sports, and your mom setting up play dates for you, friends were always just kind of there for me, falling in my lap, so I never even thought about how to make friends. They were always present. Those friends carry through to middle school, then you drop and gain some along the way to high school, but still, making new friends may have been somewhat intimidating when first learning the dynamics of a new school, but it was never a question or challenge.

So how does such a natural, often thoughtless, process become such a struggle as an adult? Whether you moved after college, are starting a new job, or are looking for those lifetime adult friends you always see on TV shows, you might have felt it’s not as easy to make meaningful connections after college. How do you break through the dull pleasantries of, ‘Can you believe it’s only Tuesday?;’ ‘Ugh, it’s so cold out;’ ‘Is it lunch time yet?’ and into actual life ‘stuff’ that you care about and matters?

What I learned from my hair stylist about making friends

It wasn’t until I saw two new stylists at my local salon that I thought about the process of adult friend-making. Have you ever realized how easy it is to connect with your hair stylist, even a new one who’s a total stranger? With all of the stylists I’ve gone to, men and women of all ages, I have come home excited, feeling like I made an instant new friend that I just hung out with for the last few hours. Then a big part of why I love getting my hair done is not just for the pampering but for the social aspect of the salon – but why is that?

Here’s what I’ve come up with – the 7 lessons my stylists taught me about making friends as an adult.

Look local

You don’t have to  go far from home to find a great salon or stylist; in fact, my favorites are minutes away from my home – after an internet search, reading online reviews, and asking around in local mom groups, you’ve found the place. Now all you just have to pick up the phone and make an appointment. (My local favorites: Hair to Stay & Icon Salon.)

niki

Your future friends are right in your community, too – you just have to find them. While there’s no Yelp for friends (although wouldn’t that be interesting??), you can use online resources to start finding people in your neighborhood.

  • Join community Facebook groups and be active in them.
  • Join Meetup and start going to some interesting new classes, join a book club, try a new fitness class, or do something completely adventurous. You’ll already have something in common with the others who show up.

Show up

Everyone (should) know it’s a big faux pas to fail to show up to an appointment. When you’re in the market for a new friend, it can be really easy to make tentative, vague plans so you actually never have to commit. To fight through any hesitation or nerves about getting together with someone in person and pushing past a surface texting relationship, make concrete plans – set a date, time, and location and treat it like an actual appointment that you can’t miss…or you’ll get charged a no show fee.

laur

Be a good listener

When you’re getting your hair done, you have to be a good listener for many reasons. 1. You can’t feign interest like you can at a party or in a group and give a general head nod or mm hmm, mm hmm and artfully slip away. You’re stuck in a chair with one person to talk to, so you have to be actively engaged. 2. You actually have to really listen because you may have a blow dryer humming and whooshing in your ear, and when you give a generic ‘uh  huh’ or ‘yes, good!’ reply without actually hearing what your counterpart said, you may look really silly. “Are you doing anything fun this weekend?”  “Yes, good!”

pat

Be open to trying something new

From what I’ve heard from my stylists, they love when their clients are open and willing to try something new, but where does that willingness come from? Trust – for many people, it takes years to establish any degree of trust in someone new, but with a good stylist, you can establish trust very quickly, even in a few minutes.

girls

How can you establish trust so quickly? When your stylist exhibits confidence, shares their knowledge, acts him or herself, and talks to you with their personality shining through, it’s easy to feel comfortable right away. Take a cue from your stylist and practice the same traits with your prospective new buddy to give instant good vibes.

Start with the basics

In order to eventually dig deeper in a conversation, you start with the basics. This could include the standard pleasantries at first and then it usually goes into getting to know the basics about one another – where you live, your career, family life, etc. After a quick run-down, you’ll have meaningful basics to build upon for a more substantial conversation.

Share something personal

If you ever need inspiration to write a novel or soap opera script, spend the day in the salon. People open up more quickly and divulge more personal information to their stylist than their therapist. Once one member shares something personal, the other will feel at ease and motivated to share something too. That’s how you break through the boring, pointless pleasantries – you just DO it.

steph

My first year at a new job, I really kept to myself. There was a girl next door that I wished to be friends with but couldn’t get past those surface-level conversations. It wasn’t until I shared a problem with her that she shared one with me and before I knew it, she became one of my lifelong best friends.

Just be you

Chic. Sassy. Glam. Flamboyant. Sarcastic. Hipster. Just plain cool. It’s easy to describe your hair stylist, even after just one visit. Why? Because they’re acting their totally true selves. There’s no elusiveness, shyness, acting a certain way, or weird games going on, which makes hair stylists the best. What you see is what you get, and that’s why you can leave a chair feeling like you’ve known your stylist forever.

So there you have it, 7 things I’ve learned about making adult friends from my hair stylists. If you’ve ever had that instant best friend connection with your stylist, now you know why! Take a tip from the salon chair and practice in your life to take a stranger to a tried and true friend.

Photo credit: Laurel and Prairie

Hair styling: Hair to Stay Salon

Everywhere
  • Casey Oakley Bennevault

    I loved this! It is so true that women tend to really connect with their hair stylists and I think you really hit the nail on the head in terms of identifying why that’s so!

  • Oooo I love this perspective! I love the listening one because I feel sometimes we’d rather do the talking but we can connect so much by just lending an ear!

  • Tiffany {A Touch of Grace}

    This came at the perfect time. The thought of having to make friends now scares me. These are great tips.

  • Paige Allison

    You know what’s funny? When I lived in the upper midwest, yes – finding adult friends was totally hard! Everyone was so icy and standoffish. They hung out with who they hung out with in high school, and good luck trying to break into that friend group! But I had a stylist I loved. In the South, it’s SO EASY to make friends! People ACTUALLY want to hang out and invite you over on the weekends or to play dates. The people are so much easier to talk to down here! But a hairstylist? Ughhh. I’ve had 5 and am switching again. Go figure that one.

    • Lindsay Katherine

      haha that’s so strange! I live where I grew up but am not really friends with my high school friends. The people in my new neighborhood have been so nice though. A neighbor I haven’t even met brought over dinner and snacks this week and we’ll be getting together next week to hang. Wish we lived closer : (

  • It’s so funny you wrote this because that’s how I feel about my waxing specialist! HA! Seriously. Every time I go, I’m excited because I get to see and chat with Leah. She makes it SO easy. We’re at different places in our lives, or I think we’d hang out outside of my appointments. I could really use these tips. I joined a local club, but there aren’t many people my own age there (which is fine because you know I love old men), but I really am craving a local girl friend. It’s really hard meeting someone that fits.

  • Sorta wish you posted this/we met when I first moved to London. It is SO hard to make friends in London especially when you’re an expat. Part of me didn’t stop blogging because it is the thing that saved me and introduced me to people. British people can be a bit reserved and bizarre. They also have very passive aggressive personalities, so it becomes difficult to find genuine people that you enjoy being around. I didn’t even know about things like Meet-Up until I got here. I think your tips are awesome. Considering we live in such a globalized world, moving at an older age is normal. This is definitely a post I would share with friends 🙂