Soft Skills You Need as a Massage Therapist

Dec 13, 2020

Deciding to pursue a new career can be a time of great introspection, especially if it’s in something that you can do in a whole new environment like massage. While this is a great opportunity to take stock of your skills and experience, when weighing up your professional skills alone against a whole new career pathway, a lack of confidence can easily follow.

But when weighing up your next career steps, you don’t have to feel limited only by the professional skills you’ve gained ‘officially’, especially if you already need to become qualified in a whole new industry. Instead, we’re going to help you start weighing whether your soft skills are the ones that show if your new industry is the right fit for you

What are soft skills?

Soft skills are techniques you’ve developed that impact the way you work. You’ve likely heard of these referred to as interpersonal skills, essential skills, or non-cognitive skills, they are transferable from job to job regardless of what type of job. Interpersonal (people) skills, communication skills, listening skills, time management, empathy, are all types of soft skills and massage therapists that excel in these types of skills have more rewarding careers.

In a traditional work setting, hiring managers may pay close attention to a candidate’s soft skills because they are indicators of how successful that person will be in the workplace. While he or she may have excellent technical skills, they may be uncomfortable working as part of a team or relating to clients. However, if you’re intending to work for yourself from home, these skills, if anything, become even more important, as the ability to engage with clients or suppliers at some point, so knowing you have a good grasp of these more adaptable skills will truly matter.

Why massage therapy may be the career for you

Think about yourself and the way you interact with others. Would you describe yourself as adaptable, good communicator, creative thinker, dependable, of high work ethic, positive, good at time management, motivated, a good problem solver, a critical thinker? If so, a career in massage therapy may just be the ideal pursuit for you.

Your personal skills are what make you able to give clients your full attention, express yourself clearly to them, and comprehend what they are saying, even when they have difficulty describing their issues.

Which soft skills do you need?

Good communication may well be the most important soft skill, though it’s challenging to prioritise personal skills. It’s critical that you can easily converse with your clients so they can convey their problems, medical history, symptoms, and expectations.

For example, you may need to tell a client a session could make their condition worse. A conversation such as this can be difficult, especially when someone has entrusted you to help them. Having excellent communication skills enables you to speak with your clients frankly, and empathy allows you to support them emotionally.

Massage therapists are care-givers. They help people who are unwell or injured feel better. They also provide massages for people who are already feeling great and want to keep it that way. Given wellness is the primary goal of a massage therapist, it’s easy to see why personal skills such as empathy, positivity, and communication are so vital to being a good therapist.

Take care of yourself

Taking care of clients physically and emotionally can be draining on a massage therapist’s personal resources. To heal others, you must take care of yourself. If you feel anxious, sad, or angry, you may not be able to accept the needs someone else is showing.

When you practice self-care, you are tending to the success of your massage therapy business. If you broke your hand, it would devastate your business. Your mind is no different; you must take care of it when it is feeling stressed. Including a self-care routine in your life makes it easier for you to succeed in the demanding massage therapy role. It means you are taking care of yourself and your business, so you and your clients succeed.

Improve your time management

Most people think of a date planner or scheduling app when they think of time management, but time management as a massage therapist is about how well you use time. To be a successful therapist, especially if you are working from home, you need to determine what your time is worth. You also need to embrace the idea that you cannot—nor should you—do everything yourself. It’s okay to ask for help in prioritising activities that help your family achieve financial or other types of goals.

Without proper time management, time starts feeling more like a liability. Making changes to your attitude will help you harness time and use it to its fullest advantage.

Time can be an asset or a liability, depending on how you approach it. To get time on your side, start by changing yourself. You can choose between a positive or negative attitude—it’s your choice, but it requires awareness. Ask yourself these questions to determine your attitude about time and time management:

  • Do you leave yourself plenty of time for tasks, or do you usually feel rushed?
  • What about your family—are they often late or rushed? Do you find this embarrassing?
  • Do you make time for yourself?
  • Do you think of time as your friend or enemy?

To keep your massage therapy business on track, you must learn excellent time management, and that requires a daily plan. It is more effective if it is written or kept as an online calendar. If your task list is only in your head, it’s far too easy to let things slip.

Become business savvy

In the same way you prioritise your life, you can prioritise your clients. The Pareto principle indicates that 20% of a person’s time produces 80% of their results. Instead of keeping a full client list, focus on only the 20% responsible for 80% of your income. Write a daily plan and evaluate it to choose which tasks you must do today and which can wait.

The more focus you put on high-priority tasks and high-value clients, the fewer conflicts you will have. Culling these lists may not be easy, but the goal is to delegate, simplify, or eliminate, so you become more efficient, more effective, and less stressed.

Cameron Aubrey

Cameron Aubrey has over 20 years experience in the massage industry, and leads the team as Course Director at Discover Massage Australia. Cameron holds a Diploma in Remedial Massage, and his expertise runs across a large range of massage techniques, particularly sports, Swedish and whole body massage.