How to respond to criticisms and negative feedback

How do you respond to criticisms or to negative feedback? Or to challenges and “hard questions, for that matter? Do you slink away, disappear into the carpet, stutter apologies profusely and crawl away to lick wounds in some cave? No? Oh, you go toe-to-toe with your denigrator and give back as good as you got?

You do neither, they are both unhelpful responses. Unhelpful to you and unhelpful to your denigrators. Most of all, they are unhelpful to your customers and clients, because what has happened is that you have withdraw your value from them. Your value could have helped them become better in one way or other.

So what to do? Well, firstly, get competent! Recognize, together with getting competent, that only you and a significant few have any right to critique you. You, and that significant few, have the right to critique you because all have your betterment in mind, and if that means cracking a cudgel over your thick skull, then so be it, but it is because they all love you. You don’t count in that number, because you already know how to love yourself. Caveat: I utterly disagree with Whitney Houston’s :The Greatest Love of All”, we all know how to love ourselves because we tend towards selfishness. Stop listening to whiners who tell you that you need to “discover yourself”!

Next, recognize that there is no smoke without fire. What I mean is that we need to be able to discern where the fire is coming from and what caused the fire. This is supremely important because a lot of criticism, negative comments, outright ad hominem attacks and others of similar ilk should be taken as mirrors and messages telling us one of two things:

  1. The source is envious of us or otherwise is a slave to their own inadequacies and just need to take it out on somebody, and you happen to be in range.
  2. The source is at least partially right and we need to take action to redress wrongs or get more competent, or get more skills that we now realize we need.

Finally, respond appropriately. Do not react. Do not panic. If you don’t know how to answer, put them on hold and get back to them. If you discern that they are simply venting and giving way to personal attacks, give them a sharp rebuke and turn them away. Tell them to get back to you later when they have something worth your time and attention, but do not allow them to take up your time and energy any longer. If they persist in spite of that, invoke the authority of your nation that bans such uncivil and aggressive behaviour. Most of all, and this should be your aim in dealing with negative reactions to your value offerings, give them an answer they can’t refute, and turn them around to be your clients and stark raving fans if possible.

Go on, tell me how it went for you! Criticize me if you like!

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