JERRY: So she’s giving me the massage and I’m just making conversation.
ELAINE: I don’t like to talk during a massage.
JERRY: Neither do I, but I do it for them. I figure they’re bored.
GEORGE: Yeah, I do that too. I feel guilty about getting the pleasure. I feel like I don’t deserve it so I talk. It stops me from enjoying it. There’s nothing to eat in here.
Bravo Elaine for saying it straight. A lot of people don’t want to talk during their massage.
They get the most from their session and the therapist does their best work undistracted by chatter.
So why is it that people wind up chatting through their entire session so often?
There are various reasons such as nervousness, hyperactivity from a busy day and sociability. The worse case scenario is when the client wants to be silent but the massage therapist just motors on insensitive to cues from the person on the table.
This article is a bit of a “mea culpa” from times past, because it’s something I had to come to terms with in my own practice.
Talking too much through a massage is more common with frequent appointments. The familiarity that develops between massage therapist and client can become a two edged sword.
Under the best of circumstances this familiarity helps people relax knowing that the session will be suited to their needs. Reciprocally the client’s comfort makes it easier for the therapist to work efficiently.
The dark side of increased familiarity is that it comes with a tendency to blur the lines of professionalism and friendship.
Many times I’ve heard from clients who switched from another therapist: “It started out great with my other masseur, but now he/she just talks through the whole session.” Unfortunately, establishing boundaries is so uncomfortable for clients that as much as they like the bodyworker, they will often just move on to someone else rather than speak up.
Read part 1, 3 and 4 of this series.
Here are a few things that helped to change the dynamic for me, and grow into a more respectful bodyworker:
- If the client is willing to set some goals for the session, and establish guidelines for desired pressure and tastes, interruptions are minimized. For example, if I know they want deep tissue work on their shoulders, light reflexology on the feet and deep belly organ manipulation, I can pace the time properly and avoid asking as I go along. The more I have to ask, the more we talk.
- I explain the benefits of allowing both the client and the massage therapist to be able to focus fully on the experience, Saying it out loud just seems to make them feel more empowered to do so.
- On the other hand, I’m not “a no talking dictator”, telling people to be silent. Some people enjoy it, and it helps them unwind. If a client wants to talk, of course that is perfectly fine. The key issue it that it has to be their instigation, not my inspiration.
- We socialize outside of work. Some of my clients have been with me for over two decades. It’s impossible not to become friends. So, when time allows, we grab a cup of coffee or a snack at a nearby restaurant after the session, and that’s the best of both worlds.