You see it time & time again. In posts and threads online, in group meeting discussions and amongst friends in the same line of work....groomers complaining about how poorly their clients care for their pets. Groomers not being able to let go of the frustration and anger towards clients over how little they care or know about grooming, how little respect they feel they get, or how little money they make to deal with the level of issues they see walk into their businesses. Groomers having to vent negativity on a regular basis. Bubbling over with anxiety and stress until it spills out on those around them.
Few people will be brave enough to pop in as a voice of reason and remind people that they are the one who dictates their pay rate as well as their own level of enjoyment in their work, no one else.
When I see or hear this stuff, I'm usually one of the first to state my personal opinion and then quickly and quietly exit stage left....
Recently there have been multiple "reminder posts" from long time groomers that had been there, done that, asking disgruntled and stressed out groomers to take charge of their own destiny and take that energy and put it into more proactive efforts.
I couldn't agree more..
I've got to tell you, I'm personally thankful this level of angst is a minority.
And both in person and online, with all of the trade shows and classes, or groups and chat rooms sitting there at your disposal, it is easy to notice that it seems that certain groomers often go through these levels of contempt or frustration in what comes to be to the quiet onlooker as definite cycles...
It should be mentioned that with the 5 minutes of fame you get from being the "flavor of the day" online, or getting cheers from fellow naysayers, its really self defeating to your own work, and to the work of others in the industry you call home, to participate in melodrama or endless ranting. Instead, in the best interest of your own emotional well being, those standing on the outside of the mob invite you to eagerly run away at full throttle from any negative venting that is laden with nastiness.
Remember, people who are always intolerant or gossipy, will eventually bestow their gifts upon you.
But I digress...
I'm quite sure that every industry deals with it share of Negative Nellies, but perhaps because groomers are truly a passionate and creative bunch, or because since we are unregulated, social and news media coverage of bad situations are allowed to get out of hand pretty quickly with little recourse, we are especially hard hit by those who behave badly or with bad poor forethought.
I wanted to write this blog to discuss these peronality types and to shed some light on the thought process (or lack thereof) behind being reacitve and negative towards clients. My purpose is not at all to shame or ostrecize, not to bring poor behavior into the limelight, nor to emphasis a negative (but small) aspect of the people who work each day to comprise our industry.
Instead I'd hoped to maybe offer a different viewpoint to those who may just have their toes hanging over the edge of "going to the dark side" and struggling with not getting caught in the undertow of frustration. And especially to help our new groomers- who are just now learning the ropes of their profession- to understand that negativity and dishonesty is not the norm, and it is not well received by industry peers who seek to bring our work to a higher level or respect and consideration from pet owners and governing bodies.
Those of us who have been grooming for a very long time, have had successful businesses, and who speak and write to fans and peers who come to us for knowledgeable advice, have groomed in our salons most happily for many years. We have learned through personal experience that you must find the joy in what you do in order to do it for the right reasons. We have created a lengthy list of faithful and respectful clients by cultivating mutual tolerance, respect and appreciation. And we have been the designers of both a profitable and fulfilling career.
If you are one of those groomers who finds yourself often upset through the day, your grooming day drawing to a close with yet another sequence of frustrating events, I would ask you to take an honest look at how you felt when you came in to work. Because unless some truly altering event happens, it is surely still the way you'll feel when you finish work, if not worse.
Some honest questions for the consistantly frustrated stressed out and angry groomer:
Why was it again that you got into this line of work?
Because you love animals?
Do you realize that its the animals that lose out when you allow your emotions to get the best of you?
You do realize that part of our job description requires that we fully realize that we do not own all of our the pets that come to see us? That part of our job in all fairness should be fixing mistakes and kindly educating and having patience with other humans just as much as that dog on the table in front of you?
And you do realize, don't you, that our entire industry loses out every time another animal loving and compassionate groomer closes their doors out of not learning to better work alongside their pet clients' human counterparts?
And you do realize that forever in the balance between being truly right, or being truly wrong, there are hundreds of gradiations of compromise and simple differences in opinion...?
So, you as a person in this world, do you want to be part of the problem, or part of the solution?
Do you want to put out good things and feel at peace with your efforts each day, or do you want to allow yourself to fold on all of the differences you can help cultivate- effects that could ripple out and possibly change many more events than you can't currently foresee?
It is important every day to stop to realize how vast each small corner of our world actually is. And even that with all it is comprised of, it is still infinitely small when compared to the realization that each and every person has their own tiny place to fill, their own set of responsibilities, their own version of reality, and their own goodness to bring to this big world. And all of these things have to come into unison just to get then to walk through your salon door.
So what will you do to get them to keep coming back?
At times we walk a tightrope between skirting our best judgement and giving our paying customers what they want and are still able to pay for. Some say never compromise, but after all of these yers grooming, I have learned full well that cutting off your nose to spite your own face, can come at the expense of your business. Sure, we all want what's best for us because we're the ones doing the work, and should never put ourselves or our clients in harm's way. But over many issues we can take with any number of opportunitues in the given grooming day, we have to set our emotions aside and ask, "Is it really worth it"? Is it worth it to possibly ruin a client relationship over? Is it worth it to tarnish the level of respect and appreciation you work so hard every day to both earn and to deserve? Is it worth it to remove the opportunity to truly help the pet that sees you for the care they need to feel better? Who really gets let down in that equation? No one's ego, that's for sure. Furthermore, it can weigh heavily on your self respect for you to look back on a confrontation with a client and wish you'd done things differently. By then, the lesson learned and the reflection you make with have settled too late.
Is it safe to be completely unforgiving in a profession where at any given moment, it could be you who needs the forgiveness and understanding?
It is important to never compromise our ability to the point where we do something not in the dog's best interest nor with their comfort and safety at the helm. But it is also important not to sweat the small stuff. Not to let yourself get frustrated by what you see walk into your business each day, and not to judge minor infringements on prioritizing pet care to the top of everyone's list. To remember that unless a pet is truly being caused pain, there really is no definite assertion of cruelty. And if they are being put in harms way, you'll do them far more good by being an advocate for them than a tyrant.
What we as professionals notice, whose job it is to note all of the aspects of grooming and general health, often mistake as common knowledge the things we see being missed or not cared for, are simply not always apparent to a pet' owner. Mats here & there, dirty ears, overgrown nails, a lump or bump- and the owner never even knew it was there?! HOW?! you say, does an owner not know these things?! Well, because not everyone is alike. Not everyone cares for a pet the same way, to the same level or way that you personally do, and no one in turn can be held to any one person's standard of judgement when we each must live our own lives each day. We all prioritize differently, we all find different things to be a soure of joy or a source of difficulty. And on any given day, our lives can change. Changes that ripple out and can drastically cause but brief interruptions in our normal schedules, and in our normal activities, or can permanently change the course that we had planned for ourselves. It is unfair as professional pet care providers to pass judgement on our clients. Yes, there is always a right and a wrong way to do any one thing, but isn't the perception of what is right and what is wrong as invidividually decided as the individual who sets their perceptions? What we perceive as neglect, may simply be something someone overlooked.
Do not immeidately attribute to malevolence what could as easily to attributed to ignorance.
It is not realistic to assume that we all hum along on the same set of algorythms and are all on the same page when it comes to how we take in or give back forms of love and relationships like those we as animal lovers find necessary towards happiness.
I personally find brushing my dogs to be a moment of zen. Both of bonding with them, and with accomplishing a task at the same time of finding sweet release in a repetitive behavior that is second nature to me. But in reality, by the time I've groomed everyone elses' dogs, some days I barely have the energy to eat a decent meal before falling into bed.
On those days, my dogs go unbrushed...
*GASP and clutch the pearls!*
It's true, and if anyone said I was a bad pet owner for having unbrushed dogs, or taking a #7 to my Poodle, because after all, I am a GROOMER, they'd likely recieve a stern reminder of an alternate reality and a parallel universe very quickly. ;)
The saying goes; "Be the change you want to see in the world".
Well, are you?
In the following series of articles, I will be writing about methods and mindsets for the salon that will help us overcome the shortcomings of pet owner upkeep and the lofty dreams of styling outcomes versus what we can do short of a magic wand.
Things that we can do to best help our pet clients, and best help our level of sanity, and to remain profitable, all the while being proactive towards staying happy and feeling accomplishment.
Please stay tuned for many more blogs!