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Wellbeing & Personal Development

The (S)Tress Test: How to give feedback

The (S)Tress Test: How to give feedback
Published: April 16, 2024
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Turning uncomfortable situations into constructive feedback 

At the start of my last meeting with my colleague Sammy our usual two minute catch up turned into a discussion you may well be familiar with… 

When hair appointments go wrong 

Sammy’s usual stylist was away so she went to a different salon. Treated herself. Went to the upmarket place in town. Felt SWANKY. Booked the works. But as the stylist began to mix the colour, a nagging doubt crept in. It seemed too dark. The stylist’s reassurance wasn’t convincing, yet she remained seated. Result? She HATED IT. But… instead of saying anything, became paralysed with ‘hairdresser fear’. Said thank you, paid, left. As soon as she got outside, she burst into tears and went straight home. 

How many of us have felt the same? 

I empathised. When one of my most loved stylist moved away, her replacement made me look like I’d had a curly perm. I was in and out of the salon in sub 20 minutes and even the receptionist looked traumatised when I left. I never went back. 

How to give feedback when you feel uncomfortable 

Let’s cut to the chase. My current hairdresser is a gem. When I asked her if she’d want to know about a dissatisfied client, her reply was simple: “Of course, how else can I fix it?” So, what’s the best way to handle these hairy (or similar) situations? Here’s my take… 

First. Remember you are dealing with another human. Most people want to do a good job, they want you to be happy and aren’t trying to make life difficult. The wisest woman I knew (my Mum) used to tell me ‘treat others as you’d like to be treated yourself’ and who would disagree with this? If you approach an uncomfortable situation with kindness and respect you’ll be off to a good start.  

Second. Take a moment. I’ve found that yoga and breathwork are invaluable tools for calming the mind and helping me take some perspective. Pause, count to ten, take a deep breath, let it fill your belly, and then engage. 

Finally, communicate. Sammy was braver than I had been. She wasn’t sure exactly what to say, but she was brave enough to start a conversation. She called the salon and spoke to her stylist. Together they talked through what her options were to fix the colour. Taking that first step was key. It’s not just about expressing dissatisfaction; it’s about fostering an environment where both parties can be open, listen and be heard and can agree on the next steps. 


At the end of the day, this wasn’t (just) about hair. It was about learning, conversation and honesty. So next time you’re under the metaphorical cape, remember: speak up, be more Sammy, you have nothing to lose.