Is talking during a Thai Massage session good or bad?
Should you talk to your clients during Thai Massage therapy sessions?
Should you let your clients talk while they are receiving their massage?
I have often heard therapists state that clients should be discouraged from talking during the session and that they – the therapists – should not talk much either.
We don’t all process information in the same way
We all have our own way of looking at the world, reacting to events, and processing the information that we receive. There is no one right or wrong way – just different ways. Let’s look at some examples.
- Some people have a more developed auditory sense and they feel most comfortable processing information through hearing and talking.
- Some people are more visually oriented. They will notice people’s hair color, eye color, dress, and they like to ‘see it before they believe it’.
- Some people are kinesthetic. They mainly react to information through feeling and doing.
These characteristics are always mixed. Nobody is 100 percent auditory, for example. But one of the three modes is generally predominant. Let me tell you a story to illustrate this point.
Once I had a girlfriend, and when we had a disagreement, I tried to explain my side of the story to her. Often she used to get upset, and I could not understand why. I just couldn’t get her to carry on a ‘meaningful discussion’ with me to resolve our issues.
How better communication saved my relationship
When I learned about the different ways how people process information, a light bulb went on in my head. I am mostly auditory and therefore I like to talk, teach, write, and explain things. That makes sense to me, and that works for me.
But it didn’t make sense to her at all since she was mostly kinesthetic. She wanted to be held and hugged. She wanted to feel that I loved her and that I considered her point of view. She couldn’t care less about all my logic and arguments and reasons.
She needed to feel that everything was alright, whereas I wanted to explain and discuss it. It was the high road to miscommunication, and we generally both ended up frustrated.
But when I told her what I had learned about different communication styles, we worked out a solution. She acknowledged my need to talk about issues and was more willing to listen. I reduced my explanations and hugged and held her more, showing her by my actions that she mattered to me.
As a result, we were both happier and able to sort out our differences much more effectively.
Communication methods in Thai Massage therapy
What does all this have to do with professional Thai Massage therapy? A lot, as you will see.
Imagine a highly auditory client coming to you for a session. Naturally, he or she is interested in what you do, how it works, and why you do something.
If you turn on your silent mode, your client will not feel very comfortable with you, will not trust you as much, and a good client/therapist relationship is less likely to develop.
This would obviously not be so good for your repeat business.
Clients who are more visually oriented like for something to be shown or demonstrated, whereas kinesthetic clients prefer to just lie down and experience the session.
If you try to talk a lot to kinesthetic clients, you will annoy them and they won’t feel a good connection with you.
How to find out what kind of person you are dealing with
Often you can pick up clues by the way how people talk and act and what words they use (“I see“, “I hear you“, “I get the feeling…”, etc.) But the easiest way is to ask your client a question:
- “Would you like me to explain what I am doing or would you rather just experience it?”
- “Are you interested in the background of this therapy or shall we just get on with it?”
- “Do you want me to show you a little how this works or would you prefer to just get started?”
You try to get a response that gives you the clues you need. If you arbitrarily decide that talking during a Thai Massage therapy session is not appropriate, you will override some clients’ need to talk
As a result, your relationship with the client might be somewhat similar to the one I initially had with my girlfriend, although on a more subtle level.
===> Don’t decide what is right for your clients. Let them make that decision.
Here is another issue:
You may not know your client’s most important reason for getting a Thai Massage
I have had many clients who clearly needed to talk about something that they could not express easily elsewhere. People tend to trust their therapists, doctors, and hairdressers with their stories.
If you now say that this is none of your business and that you are not a counselor or psychologist, you are right.
But there is nothing wrong with being a good listener and showing empathy and a caring attitude.
So what if a client talks through most of the session! It is their money, and if it makes them happy, who are we to tell them that they are wrong? We earn the same money if they talk or not.
Thai Massage communication case history
Let me tell you another story. Once I had a client who had been gang-raped and was understandably highly traumatized.
She had withdrawn from people and had a hard time trusting anyone. She had not had a massage for a long time either.
When I began working with her, she poured out all her grief and talked throughout the entire session.
In the end, she was very happy that I listened supportively and she grew to trust me. I worked on her many times, and she kept talking throughout most of her sessions.
I don’t know how much of my Thai Massage work she felt, but what I do know is that she loved the sessions. Her need to talk was more important to her than experiencing the massage. She was one of my most loyal clients.
How much to talk is an important skill of good Thai Massage therapists
My suggestion is to keep an open mind to your client’s needs. Don’t decide what is right for them and do not become attached to doing things your way.
Some of your massage clients will talk a lot, and some will not utter a word. There is no right or wrong here.
As Thai Massage therapists, we are better off going with the flow and our client’s natural style for processing information than establishing a rule that talking during massage sessions is inappropriate.
I am not suggesting that therapists should talk more during sessions. But I am suggesting that a rule of talking as little as possible is not always the best choice, and can even be counterproductive.
Here are some ideas that can go a long way toward establishing better rapport, trust, and productive communication with your Thai Massage clients:
To learn or improve your Thai Massage skills with refined elements like good body mechanics, good communication skills, a developed intuition, and a great touch, check out our convenient online training:
The author, Shama Kern, is the founder and director of Thai Healing Massage Academy. He is the author of 20 Thai Massage online training courses, and he has been practicing and teaching Thai Massage for over two decades.