What to Do When Your Massage Therapist Won’t Stop Talking

If you’ve ever had a massage, then you know just how relaxing and wonderful it feels to lay down and let it all go for an hour or two while the masseuse manipulates your tight muscles into sheer bliss.

The other day I felt tense and sore so I called a local spa and made an appointment for a deep tissue massage.  Now, being a relatively new resident of San Francisco (and the opposite of a creature of habit), it’s been my enjoyable second job to try new spas, yoga studios, hiking trails, restaurants and the like.

Being adventurous and trying new massages is generally fruitful and rewarding, but this time it backfired — at first — because my masseuse wouldn’t stop talking.

I arrived at the spa fifteen minutes early to enjoy some fresh cucumber lemon water and began to quiet my mind.  With a bright smile, my massage therapist “Elena” introduced herself and escorted me back to the dimly-lit treatment room that had a wonderful lavender aroma.

After the usual polite tap on the door to check in and see if I’m settled and ready for my massage, Elena asked me a few questions to see if there were any areas of my body that were particularly bothering me so she could focus her energy there.  Lovely, I thought,she is attentive! Well, she was that and then some.

As Elena began to knead my sore lower back, she simply started talking as if I was a close friend and we were out to dinner on a Friday night.  No more questions asked, just a constant, mindless stream of jabbering about her problems with her ex-boyfriend to how her car wouldn’t start the morning before.  I listened out of courtesy for the first 10 or 15 minutes, but when I checked in with myself I was clearly feeling frustrated and not enjoying this experience.

Thoughts like I paid for this massage, she’s not paying me to be her therapist! became my inner chatter, which was not why I was there.  I paid for a massage to relax, release muscle tension and promote my own inner peace.  It wasn’t happening.

When Elena instructed me to turn over, instinctively I looked into her eyes and said, “Elena, it sounds like you are going through some tough times and I wish the best for you.  However, I would prefer to enjoy some quiet time so I can truly and fully enjoy your gift of massage.  Would that be OK?”

At first she looked hurt, but then she smiled and said, “Of course. I’m sorry, I guess I have a lot of my mind.”  I told her it was not a problem, that her skills were wonderful and it really would enhance my massage experience by having complete silence for the remainder of the time.

In the end, I’m glad I spoke up. We are all in charge of our own experiences, and it is important to be mindful with ourselves and ask for what we need.  Intuitively, I could tell Elena wasn’t even aware that she was blabbing away.  I like to think by speaking my truth, it was also a small gift to her because it brought back her own self-awareness.

Elena didn’t utter a word for the remaining 45 minutes and I gave her a nice tip.  Gratefully, I ended up with the blissful massage I expected and left feeling flexible, relaxed and rejuvenated.