A couple of weeks ago I picked up a passenger who is a barber. It was a little odd that his hair was not all that well-kept, but I digress. Interestingly, he had supposedly gone to cosmetology school as well barber school.  I wanted to find out why there was competition between barbers and cosmetologists.  They both cut hair but cosmetologists are more prevalent.  It is very rare to see a barber shop these days unless you are near a military base.

Single Piece of Hair

I have always wondered the difference between a barber and a cosmetologist. The very best haircut I have ever had been by a barber. The barber who cut my hair was slow and meticulous. There was not a single hair out-of-place when he was finished. I looked amazing when I left his chair. Since that haircut, I have never looked as good.

Never Ask a Question You Do Not Already Know

The current passenger in my car presented me with a unique opportunity to have a barber at my disposal. I asked him the difference between a barber and a cosmetologist.  He went on a 20-minute diatribe (that was the length of the car ride) about how terrible cosmetologists were and that they do not actually learn to cut hair while they are in school.  I continued to ask him questions knowing that he would only give me one side of the story.  He told me that at barber school he must have done over 850 haircuts before he graduated.  However, at cosmetology school, he had only done four haircuts.  He went on to tell me that women barbers make a lot of money.  Apparently, men like to have their hair cut by women (shocked I am not).

Competition Between Barbers and Cosmetologists

He could not give me a straight answer about the differences between a barber and a cosmetologist.  The number of hair cuts aside (if that is true) does not explain why I should get my hair cut by a barber and not a cosmetologist.  Afterall, the cosmetologist would eventually catch up in the number of hair cuts.  Also, given the prevalence of cosmetologists simply stating “they suck” does not explain how they are more common than barbers.  If barbers were superior to cosmetologists, then they should dominate the market.  The only time I even remember seeing a barber shop is near the local military base.  I am sure there are more reasons my passenger could have shared but did not.  I would genuinely go see him if he could explain why barbers were better.

Final Thoughts on Hating the Competition

Competition is good.  It drives people and businesses to improve.  The energy that my passenger spent hating cosmetologists would have been better used to improve his business.  He would be better served by learning some of the techniques cosmetologists use to increase awareness about their respective businesses (i.e., marketing).  My passenger needed to work harder.

If the only real argument you have against your competition is “they suck,” then you need to go back and understand your own business better.  You need to explain in two minutes or less why your business is better, not why their business is worse.  It comes off as petty if you can only put down your competition.

There is a time to be adversarial and a time to be collegial, learn the difference.  Your greatest strength comes not from putting others down but by lifting yourself and others up.  Instead of making me want to hire him more, he made me want to hire him less.

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