I’m Not Listening!

I am not unlike most of you, in that when I make a massage appointment, I count down the seconds until the therapist will be getting his/her hands on me. This particular time, I had waited too long to schedule my massage, so my shoulders were shot (mistake #1). I had the opportunity to sign up to try out a new massage technique, that I assumed would help my shoulders (mistake #2). The plan was to kill two birds with one stone. Because, as I mentioned, I was long overdue, it also meant I was super short on patience.

I was at a massage conference, on the trade show floor (what better place to have sore muscles?) I arrived to my appointment early, to double-check the location and introduce myself, and instantly got the impression that one therapist in particular was running this particular booth – with an iron fist and the most obnoxiously arrogant attitude. She and I instantly clashed when I told her, “Why don’t you [~20 feet away] keep working on your client, and I’ll just talk with your assistant here [right in front of me]?” She chose to instead shout orders in my general direction as her poor client was held hostage.

When I returned for my actual appointment time, about 10 minutes later, she greeted me by the wrong name, and treated me like a three-year-old.

I explained a long-term injury to her and told her (amid several interruptions) that my shoulders were in great need, and as long as she didn’t work out my tailbone area, I was fine. I was subjected to five minutes of “getting me on the table”. She never stopped talking to her assistant for the entire treatment, including fun tidbits such as:

  1. “Here at the trade show we can’t really do much real massage” (Note: I had paid for this “non-massage”)
  2. “Are you going out tonight to get yourself a single man? There are plenty here.”
  3. “Have you taken anterior yet?”

(Student replies, “No”)

“Oh, then here. Do this [anterior work; on ME]

And my favorite:

  1. “The man coming next is just a solid piece of meat. He’ll be more fun to work on than her. We can’t really do much with her because she doesn’t want us working those areas.”

(Wrong on SOOOO many levels!)

It took me two more tries to explain a rather minor injury to her.

When I told her to not work an area that was painful, she saw fit to argue with me that she *had* to work there (nonsense), and that “in order to release my back” she’d have to work out my legs (utter nonsense, plus, AGAIN, I NEED MY SHOULDERS WORKED ON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!).

At the 35-minute mark in this emotionally painful 30-minute massage, she had me flip over and asked how I felt. I told her, again, that I had wanted my shoulders worked on. She gave me several excuses why they couldn’t, again called me by the wrong name and proceeded to tell her student (yes, God has seen fit to make this woman a teacher…of some poor innocent schmucks), that she was going to spend all her time she had left on my neck (AHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

At the conclusion, when she asked me again how I felt, I wanted to tell her, “those two or three seconds you spent on my shoulders were lovely. The rest was a total waste.” I honestly was so taken aback by the whole experience that I found myself completely at a loss for words.

I have never felt so unheard, and so invisible.

The takeaways for other massage therapists:

  • LISTEN – Shut up until your client has completely told you what he/she needs to say

  • NO EXCUSES – own your weaknesses; don’t argue that you don’t have any

  • Either learn a technique to remember names, or never, ever call anyone by their first name.


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