Massage & Bodywork

MAY | JUNE 2022

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Sometimes, a client just rubs us the wrong way (pun intended)—and we react like the humans we are, by getting aggravated and letting that show to the client. Especially if it's someone you've never seen before or have only seen a time or two, as opposed to a long-term client you know well, it's easy to give a snippy comeback if they say something you take offense to. Or perhaps it's not even what they said, but the way they said it. We might respond in a way that's judgmental or parental- sounding, or as if we're taking it personally. It's never about us personally; if the client talks to you in a bullying or sarcastic way, they'd do the same with any other therapist. Giving a wishy-washy response isn't good either, because it lets the client know they can intimidate you if they want to. It's always best to respond in a professional manner. When a client is getting to you, take a deep breath before responding. Keep an even tone. PICTURE THIS Scenario: A client who has been late before rushes in 15 minutes late and tells you that you'll just have to work 15 minutes longer on her because she expects a full hour. Judgmental response: "It's your own fault that you're late as usual!" Taking it personally response: "Do you think my life and schedule revolve around you?" Wishy-washy response: "Well, I guess I can stay late again, but I might not be able to do that the next time" (something you have said before). Professional response: "I'm unable to stay late, and my policy of full payment for late arrivals and ending at the scheduled time is on the policy form you signed. We've discussed this before." ANOTHER ISSUE Scenario: A new client booked a deep-tissue massage. You had just done the second effleurage stroke down the back to warm the tissue when she says, "That isn't going to cut it. I booked a deep- tissue massage and I expect deep work!" Judgmental response: "You obviously don't know anything about massage! I have to warm the tissue first!" Taking it personally response: "Don't you think I know what I'm doing? I've been a therapist for 10 years!" Wishy-washy response: "I'm sorry. I'm warming up. I didn't mean to disappoint you." Professional response: "I just need to warm your muscles for a moment or two before going deeper, but don't worry. This will definitely be the deep massage you asked for." Be polite, be firm, be professional. Act; don't react! Laura Allen has been a licensed massage therapist since 1999 and an approved provider of continuing education since 2000. She is the author of Nina McIntosh's The Educated Heart, now in its fifth edition. Allen lives in the mountains of Western North Carolina with her husband, James Clayton, and their two rescue dogs. Acting Instead of Reacting By Laura Allen L i s te n to T h e A B M P Po d c a s t a t a b m m /p o d c a s t s o r w h e reve r yo u a cce s s yo u r favo r i te p o d c a s t s 91 essential skills | HEART OF BODYWORK TAKEAWAY: Avoid responding to clients in a way that sounds judgmental, wishy- washy, or as if you are taking their attitude personally.

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