Some Canberra salons ask customers not to discuss COVID-19 in an attempt to reduce the strain on hairdressers struggling with the weight of heavy conversations.
COVID-free conversation zones are in place at Kundalini’s in Barton as well as Eden Hair Energy in Dickson, though salon owner Emma Mahar said it is not so much a ban as it is a call for more sunny themes.
“We’re just trying to create a space where people do not feel the need to talk about COVID and where we can try to have a more uplifting conversation instead,” Ms Mahar said.
“[It’s] mostly for my team’s mental health. “
Messages at each of the salon’s stations guide patrons to avoid COVID-19 in their discussions, a direction which she said is generally “very well received”.
A remarkable amount of people have taken up gardening as a hobby the staff have learned as a result of the turn towards some of the positive aspects of lockdowns.
Younger employees feel the pressure
Ms. Mahar is mostly focused on providing a buffer to the staff, who are often thrown into the role of on-the-go therapists.
Especially for younger employees, it has become increasingly difficult to find boundaries during the pandemic, she said.
“If there’s ever anyone sitting by our chair who’s obviously desperate and … they really want to talk about it, we’ll not draw a really solid line in the sand and say, ‘hey, we do not’ I do not want to talk about that!’
“It’s more about just creating a framework that makes it easier for my team not to feel like they need those conversations,” she said.
But when it comes to the topic of COVID-19 vaccines, the salon has “tried to avoid it completely,” Ms. Mahar said.
Meanwhile, Kundalini Hair advises patrons in advance via email that the salon is a haven from pandemic chat.
“Under your agreement, we ask you not to discuss COVID, vaccinations, policies or lockdowns with our team,” reads the communication from the salon.
“We have a relatively young team that does not feel comfortable or qualified to lead those conversations.
“The last 18 months have not been easy in many ways for our team, many of our customers and the wider community – we believe it is important to maintain a space where people can slow down from outside stressors and everyone feels safe and welcome. “
Not all salons slow down COVID calls
However, not all salons redirect the conversation, and the management at Cataldo’s in Civic says that it will not “deviate from the conversation about COVID”.
“I think where we are lucky we are in a position to have these special relationships with customers that not many people do,” said manager Michael Cataldo.
“Many of our customers may not have interacted with many people face to face for a while.
“And now that they’re allowed to come and see us in the salon, they can actually have a chat with us, and they can talk about some of their challenges with COVID and also some of the positive things that the lockdown could have brought them. . “
Sir. Cataldo said the salon understood the importance of relationships between staff and customers and did not want to “suffocate them by not talking about a particular thing”.
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