How to Avoid Awful Haircuts

Michelle Williams pixie haircut
Q: I am in desperate need of advice. I have been in a deep depression in relation to my hair for over six months now. It all started with a too-short, barely an inch around pixie cut and I can't seem to recover! Every time I go in for a trim (to different, highly recommended salons and stylists), I end up with uneven layers and the stylists inevitably take too much length off.
My hair is very straight and coarse. It tends to stand straight up when cut too short. I prefer to have it cut/styled into a pixie shape like Michelle Williams' old haircut. I have gotten some great haircuts in the past but I seem to be experiencing a bout of incredibly bad hair luck, is this even possible? Even the stylists who had given me great haircuts previously have given me awful cuts recently!
I bring plenty of photographs of what I do and do not want and make sure to have a thorough consultation with any stylist before my hair is cut but this all to no avail. While stylists seem to listen and be on the same page as I am, it feels like they are just pretending in order to win my trust and then do whatever they want once they start cutting! My biggest complaints are that they go too short and leave me with asymmetrical layers (i.e. the layers on one side of my head don't "match up" with the layers on the other) even though I make clear that symmetry is very important to me.
Please, please, please, tell me what I'm doing wrong so that I can avoid the same problems in the future. I feel like I'm slowly losing my sanity! Could you possibly recommend a hair stylist in Southern California?

A: It sounds like you are doing the right things in order to get good results, and you actually may simply be having a "run of bad luck" in finding the right hairdresser. This is why having a good relationship with your stylist is so important.
I would love to be able to give you the names of some great stylists in Southern California since I know there are many of them, but I don't know of them. (I am in the Eastern U.S.) And while it seems that you have already been turning to friends and associates for recommendations of stylists, my best advice is to keep trying.
And when you find someone new that you're willing to try, explain to them the experiences you've had and ask them to let you watch as they perform the cuts so that you can make sure to monitor the amount of hair being cut. Don't hesitate to be a little insistent and interrupt if you think things are progressing contrary to your wishes.
Building a good relationship with a stylist takes a lot of communication and some time. You are already starting from a point of more mistrust than the average client, so your stylist will need to be understanding and make some concessions to make sure you feel at ease.
Michelle Williams photo by PR Photos
See also:
How to get a good haircut
Scissor happy hairdressers
Why hairdressers never do what you ask
Why hairdressers always cut your hair too short