Several years ago I visited a new-to-me stylist for a haircut. I had decided to try a new hairstyle and after describing what I thought I wanted, she cut my hair that way. It turned out horribly. After I voiced my concern over never being able to show my face in public again, she told me that she knew what I described would not work with my hair type.
"Why didn't you tell me it wouldn't work if you knew all along?"
"Because you said that's what you wanted."
"Yes, but I am not a professional hair stylist, I did not go to school for this. If you knew something I asked for would not work, shouldn't you share your professional opinion and guide me to a style that would?"
If the stylist had explained to me that what I thought I wanted wouldn't work and why, I would have happily gone in another direction – but she didn't. She knew something wouldn't work and wouldn't look good and did it anyway because of a misguided belief that she was supposed to do whatever the client says.
This experience reminded me of many conversations with wedding professionals over the years who have claimed that their job is to give their brides or grooms whatever they want. I have to disagree. If your clients are asking for something that you know will not turn out the way they imagine, as a professional you should guide them to a better option.
There will be many more haircuts in my future. Your clients will (hopefully) not have another wedding. You are getting paid for your professional opinion: speak up.
Originally published March 2011