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7 Steps to Understanding & Navigating Confrontation in the Salon/Spa


Ever encounter a leader wandering around like a mad dog looking for confrontation? Chances are, you haven’t.

And if you did, why would you even tolerate, or allow yourself to be subjected to, such demeaning and abusive behavior?

Confrontation isn’t something that well-intended owners seek out. It doesn’t matter if you’re on the delivering or receiving end, there’s nothing about confrontation that feels good.

FACT: Confrontation is something that all leaders must deal with.

The question is: How do you confront confrontation?

Most leaders openly admit that they don’t like confrontation. However, dealing effectively with confrontation is a responsibility leaders must make “peace” with.

In a leadership role, the first step is to accept confrontation for what it is. It’s a conversation that seeks to resolve a problem or situation that has the potential to become emotional.

Add one more essential element. It’s a conversation that must be done without procrastination.

Here is our seven-point strategy to effectively navigate confrontation with the least amount of stress:

  • You are the voice of the salon/spa: It’s your job to speak on behalf of your company. When you avoid, procrastinate, or candy-coat the issue, you are compromising the wellbeing of your entire salon/spa, its employees, and customers. KEY: Engaging in difficult conversations is what you signed on for when you accepted the role of lead You are the voice of your company.

  • It’s not about you: If you get a ticket for speeding, you were speeding. You can’t blame it on your right foot because you chose to speed. KEY: When dealing with behavior or performance issues, you are addressing the chosen behaviors of employees that compromise the standards and culture of the company. Don’t make it personal.

  • Keep the conversation safe: It’s natural to anticipate that an employee will negatively react during a potential confrontational conversation. When the conversation begins, you’re looking for that anticipated reaction that can trigger a more aggressive response from you. It’s like a trap you set for yourself. KEY: When the conversation becomes aggressive on either side, the natural reaction is “fight or flight.” And that’s when things get ugly. It’s your job to keep the conversation safe and focused on achieving the desired outcome.

  • Avoid “I-just-want-to-get-it-over-with” thinking: Of course, you want to get the conversation over with. But you can’t keep the conversation “safe” if your approach is to drop a bomb and see what happens. KEY: These conversations take time, so give them time. It takes time to thoroughly communicate why a certain behavior or action is unacceptable. It’s just as important to allow the employee to be heard. There are always two sides to a situation.

  • Don’t procrastinate: Here’s a Neilism: “Giving in to a leadership blockage today gives you a bigger problem tomorrow.” KEY: Avoiding confrontational conversations is a leadership blockage. The longer you avoid a problem, the bigger it gets. And the bigger it gets, the more emotional and volatile the conversation can become. No-compromise leadership means, “If it needs to be done — get it done.”

  • Flip it: Simply changing your perspective to “coaching” can help you and the employee work through a confrontational conversation with less stress. KEY: Help an employee reach his or her full potential by coaching them. “Stop doing that” is not coaching. Asking an employee how he or she could have approached a situation differently, and discussing alternatives, feels a whole lot better than initiating a verbal battle.

  • And then there are those tough ones: Yes, there will be those conversations that fail to reach the desired resolution. They become heated and don’t end well. KEY: These are learning opportunities to grow as a leader. No leader is a complete package — but the best leaders never stop trying to get better.

Here’s my challenge to you: If you view even the most basic corrective conversations as confrontational, you are going to be one stressed-out and ineffective leader.

If you procrastinate and avoid addressing behavior and performance problems, be prepared to watch those problems manifest themselves into much bigger and complex challenges tomorrow.

Become a coach to your employees — even if it requires some tough love at times.

Lastly, recognize when a behavior and/or performance problem is unresolvable and it’s time to terminate the employee.

The worst thing any salon/spa owner can do is allow a bad employee to stay just because he/she brings in a lot of money. The damage to your culture will cost far more than the money you’re trying to retain.

Want some help? Schedule a free strategy session and let's discuss how to get you and your team on the same page.


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