I have a relatively complicated haircut: shaved on the sides, long on the top, blended in the back. I also colour my hair to a shade of red that makes me happy. (My mum’s a natural redhead, and I have red highlights, so I feel like I’m just bringing out the hidden ginger within.) When I lived in London and went to the same stylist team, we had the routine down. We might tweak a bit here or there, but they knew what I liked.
As I am embracing a more nomadic lifestyle, it means I’m not in one place long enough to develop that same routine with any one stylist. And, because I have a complicated cut (that I’m not quite ready to leave behind just yet because I like it) and a colour that is a bit of a blend of shades, it falls on me to communicate to a new stylist what it is that I want.
So far, no one’s gotten it exactly like the lovely Emilia (colour) and Barbara (cut) in London. As I write this, my hair is just a bit too far towards the orange end of the ginger spectrum (I like the deeper red-coppers on me), the shaved bits on the side are ok, and the back is more shaved than blended.
Each time this happens, I may not have the “perfect” haircut, but I do learn a very valuable lesson. I learn how what I say, how I give instructions or describe my preferences, is translated into physical reality. Even though I am not a stylist, I am slowly learning to speak the corner of the stylist’s language that fits my specific hairstyle. By the time I become fluent in that corner, I may well want to change up my look, but the value of the lessons remains and translates to other areas.
When you’re speaking to a vendor, a colleague, or a client who works in a field different from yours, there are always going to be translations applied to your communication. Even if you start from the same basic language. It’s an interesting thing to think about. You may not need to learn all the technicalities of the other person’s field, but can you learn enough of one corner that applies to your project to help make the communication even clearer?