I love you just the way you are*

I’m Yves and I practice conversations with people.

What I like about magical moments in conversations is that I don’t know how they’ll come to me that day. Usually they happen in workshops or in one-or-one conversations with students.

Today I want to share one that came to me “in the wild”.

This was a 20-minute conversation that I’ll abbreviate to honor your time.

On Wednesday I went into a hair salon to get a trim and walked out with goosebumps.

I was getting a haircut  and the hairdresser asked me what I do for a living.

“I practice conversations with people”

“Oh, interesting…” she says.

“…I actually just had an awkward conversation with my boyfriend’s brother.,” She continued.

“It was about my boyfriend’s birthday party that I’m organizing.

My boyfriend’s brother had called me to see if I would be OK if he and a couple of friends hired a stripper for his birthday.”

She raised her voice and said:

“This is a birthday party where I would be present as well!”

And then with an even louder voice she said:

“Can you believe that?!”

I smiled because I have learned not to answer these questions with yes or no, rather to focus on her feelings and needs instead:

“WOW,” I said, “and you were really surprised?”

“Yeah…” she replied:

“…And I told him he must be kidding. So I said NO, I don’t want a stripper”

And then she gave me another – not really a yes/no – question:

“Do you think that’s normal?”

So I kept focusing on her needs:

“It sounds like you want some respect?”

“No” she replied. And she told me she doesn’t actually know what she wants.

I kept on listening to her story and then said:

“It seems like you want some understanding or some acceptance”

“YES! How can they think that would be OK for me, or even my boyfriend. I’m pretty sure he doesn’t like that idea either.”

Then we were silent for a while and after a minute or two…as I noticed the power in her scissors picking up again, she said:

“But I just keep thinking about it and I don’t know why…”

I was looking in the mirror and noticed that my haircut became shorter and shorter…

…I was torn…

On the one hand I wanted to keep some of my hair…

…on the other hand I could sense a magical moment just around the corner…

…so I decided to speak up…

…not about my hair, but about her needs…

“I have a thought about what you just said and I want to check whether you’re open to hearing it…?”

“…Yes” she said.

I continued: “It sounds like you are a bit uncomfortable with the fact that you said that you didn’t like someone’s idea…”

“…yes…?” She replied

“And that you would like to have some acceptance that it’s OK for you to say you don’t like something.”

“Yeah,” she said with some energy, “because I don’t want to be a difficult person.”

“Right,” I said, and continued:

“And it seems that you’re looking for that acceptance and understanding in others…”

“…where you might actually have the power to do that accepting for yourself!”

She smiled…

…the sound of the scissors softened…

…and she whispered

“Yeah…maybe this was just something that I really didn’t like.”

As I felt the goosebumps come up I asked:

“How is it to accept yourself to say no to something you don’t enjoy?”

“Yeah, feels pretty good.”

And I said: “Congratulations”

In the mirror I could see her eyes light up…

…and her smile from ear to ear…

…I felt goosebumps…

…and noticed my own smile in the mirror…

…which stayed on my face for a while…

…even when I noticed my very, very short haircut.


Disclaimer: the people who teach it, usually need it the most.