Due to the personal nature of massage, awkward moments are bound to happen. What separates a true massage professional from an amateur masseuse is how they deal with these occurrences when they happen.
If you were the client when one of these awkward occurrences you would, no doubt, be horrified. In fact, you’d probably never return to the same therapist, and it could turn them off massage therapy as a whole. As a massage therapist, you are a professional, and it’s your handling of these situations that helps to shape the public opinion of our industry.
Grace and professionalism is paramount, and these inevitable situations will give you the perfect opportunity to display both.
Erections, body odor, passing gas, awkward conversation or body noises and others are all quite common. Here’s how to handle them with grace next time you should encounter such a situation.
If at all possible, you should just ignore the situation entirely. If the client isn’t acting inappropriately in any way, it’s not your job to bring attention to a situation that might embarrass them. This is often the best way to deal with erections, or the occasional bodily noises you may experience and if the client doesn’t bring it up, you have no reason to either.
Body odor is an even easier subject to deal with. Ignore the situation, and rely on scented lotions and oils to improve the scent in the room.
Change the Subject
If the customer is being inappropriate, or the conversation is awkward, change the subject, or if that doesn’t work, suggest that you turn on some music so that they can relax and enjoy their session. Typically you can move on to another subject or just cease the conversation in general in lieu of some calming music.
Redirect the Clients (and Your) Attention
If your client does something they deem awkward, or they have any sense at all that the conversation or the massage is becoming awkward, it’s a great time to deflect attention to something else. For example, if something awkward happens and you can tell the mood in the room is changing, you can deflect the attention to problem areas such as the tension in their shoulders, or explaining the technique you’re using to sooth body pain in trouble areas.
Follow the Cue of the Client
Awkward situations are inevitable, but the best thing you can do when they happen – and the client notices – is to follow their cue. If they laugh, you laugh. If they seem ashamed or awkward, you deflect their attention elsewhere or assure them that it happens all the time. It’s your job to make your clients feel comfortable.
Smile, and Remember… These Things Happen
No matter what you do, these things are going to happen, and ultimately all you can really do is take it on as a part of the job. Smile, reassure your client, and move on to something else while keeping the mood in the room light and relaxing. Your job is as much about ensuring their comfort and relaxation as the actual massage and the true professionals understand this better than their amateur colleagues.