Do You Know What You Want?

By Noah Graff

A principle my parents have repeated to me is that nobody in the world is a mind reader. Therefore, to get what you want from other people you have to be as clear as you possibly can.

I usually hate going to a new barber because they ask me tough hair questions that I do not feel qualified to answer. They ask things like, “Do you want it short on the sides?” “How much should I take off the top?” “What gage should I use?” “Do you want it thinned out?” I’m not a barber. I don’t know this stuff. Why can’t they just do their job and give me a haircut I like? The big problem is that after 34 years of getting haircuts, I still have a lot trouble knowing what is actually going to make me happy. But I can say, after the barber is finished, I usually do know whether I’m satisfied or not.

It’s a tough situation for a new barber because she can’t read my mind. All she can do is guess what I want, and compounding the challenge, sometimes I don’t even know what I want. Sometimes I just want to say something like, “make me look cool, or do something that will be appropriate for work.” I have been going to my current barber, Dita, for many years. She can remember what I’ve liked in the past because she cuts my hair every month, but what makes her special is that she can use her intuition to style my hair in ways that I couldn’t have envisioned myself.

It is a wonderful and rare thing to be able to trust a pro to do what I want without proper instructions. Dita is just about the only person in this world who I can say comes close to reading my mind. When going to new barbers, my best results have come when I first comb through a magazine and find a photo of an actor or model whose hair I like, and then show the photo to the barber before she begins. The barber then at least has a clear vision of what I have commissioned her to create. Please new barber, do not ask me how to do your job. You’re supposed to be the pro!

At Graff-Pinkert we constantly repair and rebuild screw machines, a process which takes both creativity and experience trying various methods to make machines work smoothly. We always encourage our mechanics to ask questions when they are unsure how to deal with a problem, as it is obviously better to ask than screw up a machine or get stuck and waste time. We have the advantage of employing people with decades of screw machine experience — we have an Irish guy who has worked on Wickmans for a half century. More often than not, the solutions to their technical problems come from the mechanics conferring with each other rather than with the people in the office. Lloyd, Rex, and I want to know the significant technical issues occurring in the shop, but sometimes we just have to say, “I’m not sure how to do it, but I know you can figure it out. SO JUST GET IT DONE.” The mechanics get paid because they are professionals who we can trust to do things we can’t. The system usually works well, because even though we don’t know how to repair the machines, we at least know what we want in the end.

There are very few people in this world like my barber who can predict what other people want. So before you can clearly tell someone what you want from them, you better make sure what you want is clear in your own mind first.

Question:  Do you usually get the haircut you want when you go to the barber?

Noah Graff is a Salesman at Graff-Pinkert & Co.

Check out this Seinfeld clip in which Jerry’s carpenter unsuccessfully reads his mind

Seinfeld Clip – Jerry And His New Cabinets

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16 thoughts on “Do You Know What You Want?

  1. Josh

    For the last 5 years at least! Unfortunately the wonderful woman who cuts my hair just had to close down her business due to some health issues. I suppose the adventure to find a new barber has begun! I dread it.

  2. shawn arnold

    being that I go to the same cheap barber $8 plus tip and say zero all over yes I am always happy. I go every 2-3 weeks. Actually it is pretty hard to screw that up. Now when I had hair my answer would have been different

  3. Christopher Ferrier

    Parts are machined to print. Why does a haircut need to be different? Next time you get a ‘do you like, take some pictures from different angles and make a print. Done.

    Or you could do what I do, cut your own hair.

  4. Cam

    After years of dreading going to the barber and getting erratic results, I switched to cutting my own hair with a Flowbee. After experimenting with the attachments, I quickly discovered which ones gave me the haircut I was looking for. So, for the last 15 years, I’ve been getting the results I want, within 10 minutes, and absolutely no hair down my collar to irritate me. I have 2 daughters who are excellent hair stylists, but they can’t come close to the consistent results I get doing it myself.

  5. Kim

    I cut my husband’s hair. Over the years I’ve learned to do one style pretty well. Every once in a while he decides he wants it a little different, a little longer on top and I try. Sometimes it comes out ok, sometimes we laugh and then I cut it down to the one style I know. Fortunately he’s not too particluar and neither am I.

    For myself I’ve grown my hair for Locks of Love which means I rarely see the hairdresser. I remember one time I didn’t like the result because of miscommunication. Fortunately it was long enough to correct and the hairdresser did fix it so I eventually left happy with the result.

  6. Greg MacPherson

    I usually tell her to “make me look respectable” & shorter in summer for swimming/diving. Then I sit down & remember – “The only difference between a bad haircut & a good haircut is 3 weeks”. If my missus sees something she doesn’t like, she grabs some scissors & makes the adjustment while I go about solving world problems etc…..

  7. jd

    “we have an Irish guy who has worked on Wickmans for a half century ”

    why would you think it was important to the story to mention his heritage?

  8. Brian

    I think I am the Irish guy that Noah refers to. I have no problem with that! I do have a problem with being called a “mechanic”! I am a time served machine tool engineer! The only person I ask advice from, is Jesus, who helps me in every thing I do!

  9. BHSarc

    I did find it curious that the guys ethnicity was mentioned as well. Did not seem relevant to the story. I agree that if people aren’t willing to ask questions than don’t be surprised at what you end up with. Sometimes it’s hard to get people to ask… they think they know but sometimes they don’t.

  10. Don Rank

    Given my present hairline, the instructions are simple. Make both remaining hairs the same length.

  11. Chris G

    Always get the haircut I want. I have been with the woman that cuts my hair for years. 5 maybe, not sure. She moved from one shop that was 8 minutes away to now 18 minutes away. I trust her so I followed her to her new place. If I trust you, you get my business. She has a good eye for what works and what doesn’t.

  12. Noah Graff

    As far as the “Irish” comment, the reason I mentioned it is that being Irish gives our engineer just a little extra credibility because Wickmans are a British made machine. I admit, I thought it also sounded funny in a lower brow grade of humor.

    Yes it’s slightly un-PC, but I’m slightly un-PC.


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