When considering spa treatments, we often think of words like “relaxing”, “peaceful”, “healing”, and “nurturing”. We associate spa days with a much needed break from our hectic lives and a chance to leave our worries at the door. We imagine walking away from the experience feeling refreshed, renewed, and ready to take on whatever life has in store. Many of us, myself included, chose to enter the spa industry because we want to help others find that break from reality. We want to serve our fellowmen by offering a healing, nurturing connection while improving their bodies and health at the same time. I hope we have all had experiences of clients coming in for any old treatment, then having a moment of pure peace, clarity, even love, and becoming emotionally overcome. Being the safe place for my clients to laugh, cry, process, and rest was something in which I took great pride. It was extremely important to me to offer each person who entered my treatment room a place of serenity and peace, to be utilized as they needed at that moment. I wanted to offer them nurturing in a world that is cold and disconnected.
Nurture (verb) is defined as “care for and encourage the growth or development of.”
As spa professionals, we have been taught that it is part of our job to supply a nurturing environment for each or our clients. It is discussed in school, trainings, employee meetings, trade shows, industry magazines, etc. It almost becomes just as important to maintain this type of setting as it is to provide a quality treatment. And in most cases, it works out in our favor, because our clients recognize that we care about them and their overall wellbeing, thus wanting to return. Unfortunately, this idea of being nurturing has a tendency to become misconstrued. I personally started believing that it meant that the client couldn’t ever be wrong. Obviously if there was an issue of the client’s safety (like too much sun exposure before a laser treatment), then I was perfectly fine saying no. But maybe a client got too personal in their conversations. Or maybe they consistently showed up late and I felt bad turning them away even though it would mess up the rest of my schedule for the day. Or maybe a client would casually touch my hand during the treatment and it always made the hairs on my neck stand up. I thought that setting firm, clear boundaries would deter from a nurturing environment, so often times I didn’t say anything when I knew I should have.
I hope to high heaven that no one else feels like they hold second place to their clients’ comfort. I hope you know that it doesn’t matter how relaxing a treatment is supposed to be— if anyone does anything manipulative, inappropriate, offensive, or confusing to you in anyway, be it borderline or blatant, you absolutely have the right to say no and tell them to stop or leave. You don’t owe a damn thing to anyone except yourself. And if a client gets mad or embarrassed and says they’re never coming back— Bye, Felicia! You don’t need their money or their patronage.
Remember that to nurture is to “care for and encourage the growth or development of”. Sometimes people need help developing their social skills. Sometimes they need someone who cares enough to let them know that what they’re doing is unacceptable, whether they mean it to be disrespectful or not.
So if someone comes into your treatment room and you feel uncomfortable about anything they do or say, you are actually encouraging their growth or development by letting them know and setting a clear boundary. You are nurturing them by protecting and respecting yourself. Being a service provider and nurturer does not mean you are a doormat. It means you can be kind, but also boundaried. It means you can provide calm, but also safety. It means you are strong, but also Spa Strong.