There is something about a small town barbershop, or a local salon, that encourages the art of conversation. Maybe it’s that people have to sit and stare at each other. It’s one of the few times in your life where you can’t be looking down at your phone screen for extended periods of life.
Conversation is an art. It involves a verse. A back and forth. A good conversation has emotion, creates a reaction, and often a memory. When was the last time you heard “I’ll never forget that text you sent me?” No, no, no. Please don’t let this be the conversation memory of the 21st century.
A recent trip to the Silver Clippers barbershop helped me realize that conversation between two people can do so much for the human spirit. A barber is busy at work, moving his hands in some kind of dance. And even then, with as much concentration as it must take to create a classic hairstyle on the head of a regular morning customer, this barber has enough time to interact with a good story.
The pleasantries of a “how are you” and “how’s the team looking this year” are simple opening statements for what must be the real reason you visit your regular barbershop — your yearning for good conversation with the man you trust to make you look good.
This doesn’t mean you have to be the one engaged in all talk. Listening to a good conversation is just as fulfilling. During a recent trip to Silver Clippers, I listened to two older gentlemen speak of the retired life. They were in much agreement about how life was good at home and shared tips on how to fix this and fix that around the yard.
I don’t think they knew each other very well, these two men, but sitting at a barbershop gave them the opportunity to connect with a real story. They didn’t need a phone or a picture on Facebook to draw up a memory. They just needed the chance to exchange words.
I learned a few things myself on the creativity of the greatest generation when it comes to fixing what’s broken in life, big or small.
Nothing beats the conversation a barber himself can have with the hundreds of customers he sees each week. He listens and learns their names. He knows their habits, what cars they drive. He knows of birthdays and special family occasions. And he knows of these things because he allows us to tell him these things.
With the rapid progress of technology, I find comfort in knowing that the careers of the future include a good barber. Not just the kind that makes you look better than when you came into his shop, but the kind that makes you feel better because he knows the art of conversation.
Originally published at https://www.linkedin.com on August 17, 2016.