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  • Karen Stoner, LMT

Massage Therapists are people too!

Massage Therapists are people too!

Recently I had to so something I have have only done one other time in my 20 year career: I ran out of the office in the middle of the day and cancelled all my remaining appointments at the last-minute. The first time was during the pandemic when a family member's positive COVID test sent me running home. The most recent time, was because I had gotten a phone call between appointments that our almost 19 year old cat had suddenly started vomiting, losing control of his bowels, and was staggering around the house crying. Nonetheless, that meant an emergency call and trip to the vet after me frantically trying to describe how to pull the kids out of school and where to find the carrier, and shouting pleas to my receptionist to cancel everything for the rest of the day. After dashing to the vet just in time to say good bye to my furry family member, and knowing I needed to be with my very upset children, I couldn't bring myself to go back to work.

Now fortunately, the majority of the clients I had to cancel immediately agreed that they understood that I needed to be with my family. However, another was not so understanding and replied with, "Really? You cancelled appointments over a cat? That's so unprofessional!"

Massage Therapists are people too!

As a solo therapist, it isn't an easy decision to cancel an appointment. For many massage therapists, and many other service-based providers, not taking an appointment means not getting income. Not to mention affecting the professional image, and potentially losing clients. Unfortunately we are in an age where many people view the "service" industry as more of a "servant" industry. We are expected to be available whenever someone wants us, and perform to their demands. It is very difficult because first of all massage therapy dances a very fine line between the service industry and the medical industry, but people rarely view their massage therapists the way they view their doctors. If a doctor cancels or runs behind making everyone late, nobody blinks twice, but massage therapists are still primarily viewed as service providers and therefore aren't held to the same standards!

But service providers are human, just like the people to whom we provide service. We have stuff that comes up. We get sick, we have family emergencies, we have kids that need us (and even if it means losing income, I'd rather be called "unprofessional" than a "bad mom"!). Now as professionals, we do hold ourselves to a high standard, which means we do our best to meet not only the expectations of our clients, but also our own expectations we set for ourselves. If a therapist has to cancel unexpectedly, they will usually move heaven and earth to reschedule and make things right until the crippling gult of disappointing their client is fixed. But despite the old adage of "the customer is always right", it can sometimes seem like the high standards we try to both adhere to and provide aren't always good enough. Much of it comes in our industry because massage therapists are primarily women and they are seen as "being able to handle it all" and people throw higher expectations and demands at women, as women likewise tend to hold themselves to higher and often unrealistic standards, always striving to deliver more than what is expected of us. But despite these lofty goals and expectations, we are still overall human. We have good days and bad days, we sneeze, our stomachs growl, we yawn - just like the people we work with.

So overall, sometimes we all need to take a step back and remember that we are all just humans trying to navigate this crazy world together. I've always tried to live to the idea that we are all colleagues rather than competitors, going back to the old golden rule of 'treat other people the way you want to be treated' - and that defies industry, social status, or job. Yes, it is disappointing when things don't go your way, but stop and think if a situation is "inconvenient" or truly "unprofessional". Today's society makes it easy to be overstressed and over stimulated, so everyone has to look out for themselves, creating the larger and larger sense of "Me vs. the world". This makes it easy to quickly want to take out frustrations on others before thinking about how we would want to be treated if we were in a similar situation. But overall, we are all just human, so let's remember to treat each other that way.

Massage Therapists are people too!
Banjo 2005-2023

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