The Boss, the Client, and the Hairdresser

Click here to view this episode's transcript.

What's the echo chamber between our family history and our fears at work? Childhood reverberates in the expectations and resources we bring to adult life with clients, coworkers and superiors.


Listening to the two hairdressers who bare their anxieties in Episode 8 of How’s Work? with Esther Perel makes it clear that hair isn’t the only thing that can end up on the salon floor: A stylist’s sense of self-esteem might also get snipped at the sharp edge of current professional and past family relationships.

For one of the participants in The Boss, the Client and the Hairdresser, the women who sit in her beauty chair are often stand-ins for her mercurial mother. She rarely thinks about them in their own right, but about how they’ll lift or diminish her, just like mom. Her colleague, who’s also her 12-step program sponsor, is recovering from the legacy of rejection, humiliation and jealousy from her own dismissive parents and a favored sibling. Both are ready for their emotional makeover with Esther.


  • What to listen for in this episode of How’s Work? with Esther Perel:
  • How to experience a client’s constraints or criticisms without interpreting them as judgments about our competence or worth?
  • When is an adverse reaction to a client merely a defense against their perceived ability to hurt our feelings--or even our career?
  • Fear-buster: Cultivate curiosity about a client’s inner life and circumstances. When we don’t humanize clients, we empower them to trigger our negative self-perceptions.
  • Afraid of authority figures? Whom do they resemble and how?
  • Boundaries we set in our interactions with clients, coworkers and bosses are boundaries beyond which they have less power over our emotions.

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