Introverts in the Hotseat: the Barber Chair

-David Mein

Since you’ve read the title of this post, you can probably guess what this image called An Introvert’s Worst Nightmare is. There’s no doubt that getting a haircut is uncomfortable for introverts, but I don’t think that it’s something only we experience. That awkward silence you get when you’re stuck with a stranger for an extended period of time and you’ve run out of things to say is something everybody has gone through. That’s why I think this is one of those times when the general culture should take its cues from introverts and learn to be comfortable with silence.

Comedian David Mitchell (who, by the way, I think is an introvert), gives a funny summary of why haircuts are so awkward. But, after the awkwardness of not knowing how to describe the haircut you want, or having someone “wash [you] for money,” there comes the actual process of cutting hair. And, because you and your haircutter have finished discussing business, you now have to turn to small talk. It would be fine with you if you didn’t have to have a tedious discussion about the weather, but you know that no silence can be permitted, and you have to do your part of thinking up things to fill it with.

This awkwardness, however, isn’t just a problem for introverts, this is something most people experience. There are, of course, those extreme extroverts who have no problem thinking of things to fill that silence. Most people, however, even those who don’t mind small talk, usually run out of things to say, and feel just as awkward as us introverts do, trying to come up with something.

If you’re an introvert who has to get a haircut, I don’t have any tips to give you. All I can do is tell you what I do. First, I get buzz cuts. Simple and quick, usually no longer than ten minutes. Second, the barber I go to has friends usually hanging around who he can talk to. And, thirdly, to make it even easier, my barber and his friends speak Arabic, which I don’t, which means I don’t have to worry about whether or not I should try to include myself in the conversation.

Ultimately, though, people need to understand that sometimes, it’s ok to not talk. I understand that speech is how humans connect with one another, and so, even though it doesn’t come easy to me, I have nothing against small talk. That doesn’t mean, however, that every moment needs to be filled with speech. We get this idea because we live in an extroverted society, but this is one of those times we should be listening to the introverts. If, after making your connection with another human being through a pleasant exchange of small talk, you find that you can’t think of any more to say, don’t worry about it. Just say nothing and enjoy the silence.


2 thoughts on “Introverts in the Hotseat: the Barber Chair

  1. Hella Quirky (@HellaQuirky)

    Ha! Try being a girl where salons and haircut places tend to be meccas of chatty women… 🙂 Supposedly it is very therapeutic for people to tell their stylist/barber all their current woes.

    But really, I completely feel your pain. I tend to employ many stalling tactics when it comes to getting my haircut, and therefore only get one 3-4 times a year if I can help it. Which I suppose is normalish for women(?I really don’t know?), and good thing I like my hair long anyways… An avoidance tactic I employed to get me through haircuts before I found quieter stylists was to simply learn how to clip my own ends to prolong the period between when I would absolutely have to go get a haircut.

    In general finding someone who cuts your hair the way you like can take some searching and will of course involve a list of expectations that you have about the results of the service. I add the criteria of “doesn’t talk too much” to the list of things that are just as important as someone who makes my hair look great the way I want, and does not cost a ridiculous amount.

    My main tip would be to let friends and people you know about your criteria, therefore they can be on the lookout for someone that does hair the way you want and isn’t chatty. Within the last 2 years I’ve found stylists who are NOT chatty, and give me great hair cuts (but are also friendly in a silent/quiet way). Both came from recommendations of my friends who know that I absolutely dread chatty hair cut experiences, and they both pointed the way towards the respective stylists knowing that this is something I really sought out.

    So yes, now I get to experience awesome, affordable haircuts, but without painful small talk!

    1. introvertfiles Post author

      Thanks for the comment. You actually brought up something I’ve been wondering about, though. It seems like women are expected to be chatty and outgoing much more than men. A man can be the “strong, silent type,” but it seems like women don’t have that option.


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