Tag Archives: haircut

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.