Emotional Dumping

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“Sorry I’m Not Your Emotional Dumping Ground”

As hairdressers we have a unique connection with clients because we are connecting on several different layers. Through touch, listening and speaking we are creating a very quick bond that most other industry professionals do not deal with.

Think about it, a clinical psychologist purely listens and gives advice, there is no physical touch involved. The act to touch another person requires a level of trust and therefore our industry is prone to clients “dumping” & venting onto us because they feel they can trust us, and feel they are in a “safe space”.

These days, just asking a client, “How are you?” may bring on a tirade of “dumping”, taking up valuable appointment time. I used to frequently feel frustrated at how much time was being wasted.

In the past a large portion of my client connections rotated around clients emotional dumping and venting onto me, it had nothing to do with me, but I would let it happen as I associated it to closeness and connection. I have now learnt techniques to steer clients away from this negative habit, and in turn this helps to protect my own self wellbeing.

So, what is emotional dumping?

My research says, “Emotional dumping is a toxic form of venting. When you emotionally dump you are unaware of both your own emotional state and the state of the listener. Emotional dumping does not include the consent of the listener”.

Emotional dumping looks like:

  • Repeating or reliving an event within a conversation.
  • Conversation does not seek a solution.
  • Conversation doesn’t leave an opening for feedback or questioning.
  • Conversation doesn’t allow for mutual exchange.

There is a big difference between venting and dumping. It’s OK for a client to mildly vent but when they “dump” that’s when we need to protect our own mental state. Knowing the difference between venting and dumping is a positive start in having clarity in your client relationships. Here are some guidelines for you to differentiate.


  • Feels healthy
  • Sticks to one topic
  • Is time-limited
  • Doesn’t keep repeating the same topic
  • No blaming
  • No victimizing


  • Feels toxic
  • Overwhelms you with many issues
  • Keeps repeating the same thing
  • Blames others
  • In victim mode
  • Goes on and on
  • No accountability for their part in the issue
  • Not open to solutions

How do you keep yourself protected from “Dumpers”?

Set emotional boundaries. Decide how much you can give without feeling drained and overwhelmed. Gently remind your client that you love and support them, but you cannot be a therapist for them.

Let’s look at how we can set up boundaries around emotional dumping. Here are some tried and tested conversations I use with my clients.

“I understand you are hurt right now, and I want to be here for you, however I’ m not qualified to give personal advice, I am not an expert in that field.”

Or change the pace of the conversation with;

“I would love to spoil you with a great hair experience to make you feel amazing, so let’s focus on what we can achieve with your hair today.”

If someone starts “dumping” on you, it’s fine to excuse yourself and ask for some “quiet time”. Explain to them why you feel this is important within their appointment.  I use the following:

“I’d love to just concentrate on your (hair) techniques today so I may not be talking much whilst I am creating. I want you to receive the best cut/colour today.”

Learning to protect yourself in this way, particularly if you are a sensitive person, is an important form of self-care.

After 32 years in hairdressing, I have realised we all have a choice on how we manage our work environment.  A great tool to make sure I have a healthy dialogue with clients is to be suggestive about hair the minute they walk into the salon.

Don’t forget! It’s important to make sure we are not “dumping” or venting onto our clients. I believe clients are coming in to feel refreshed and inspired. We are getting paid to transform their external appearance and make them feel amazing. The last thing they want is to feel your burdens being placed onto them. It’s a sure way to never see them again.

I hope I have shifted your awareness, and that you implement some new techniques that will change your clients mind set if you feel they are “dumping”. It’s important for you to create new boundaries, so you can enjoy and flourish in healthy relationships with clients and colleagues.

Love Dario xxx


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