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Change One Word to Make a Better Impression

Change One Word to Make a Better Impression


The end of the year is the season for meeting and greeting.



As I work online, I don’t have direct physical contact with customers very often, so when I visit my hometown during the holiday season, I have many opportunties — and time aplenty — to get away from my husband and to see friends I haven’t met in a while. With the season rapidly approaching, I thought I deserved a little confidence boost. Therefore, I treated myself to a rare trip to the hair salon.






Maybe this will come off as boasting, but I truly believe that hair salons here in Japan are the best in the world for quality and cost-performance, especially when it comes to thoughtfulness. First, when you have your hair washed before your hair cut, a small piece of cotton is placed over your face. Why, you ask? This is done as a consideration to keep water from splashing you.



・Is the water temperature okay?
・Does this hurt your neck?
・Is there anywhere itchy?
・Is there anywhere I haven’t washed well enough?
・Is there anywhere I haven’t rinsed well enough?
・Is the hot towel too hot?





Almost every hair salon will make sure these things are said to you while you’re getting your hair washed. Don’t you find that amazing? As a Japanese person, I’m accustomed to this kind of treatment, but nonetheless every time I go to the salon, I find myself moved by the attention to small details.



During this trip to the salon, I was at the shampoo sink, when I was asked, “Is the hot towel too hot”? and I responded with, “It’s just fine, thank you.”



The small cotton towel obstructed my view, so I couldn’t see her face — but I heard an older woman sitting at the sink next to me shout in a shrill voice,



“And make sure the water isn’t too hot!”



I remember feeling a little uneasy when I heard that.





My unease wasn’t necessarily caused by the words themselves, but maybe it was a result of the condescending attitude of the older woman towards the employee who was about to wash her hair. The person who was in charge of washing her hair was a quiet, well-mannered young woman who sounded like an assistant. It seemed like she flinched at the woman’s cutting words, and although a bit rattled she did her best to honor the requests of the customer.



Of course, to the young woman, this is training. She is learning the skills necessary to respond properly to any comment or request from customers.



But, in the Japanese language — and indeed, Japanese culture — there are many words and ways we can express respect and consideration for other people. Since we have this beautiful language as our native language, we should attempt to think about the feelings of others and treat all of those we meet with the esteem they deserve. I want to thank the older woman for reminding me of this very important fact.