By Essie Bester
At some stage all businesses have to deal with negative feedback from clients. It is not really important whether it is justified or not. What matters the response to the negative feedback and whether the criticism is used constructively to correct any flaws and to fuel future growth.
You can accomplish growth in your company by responding in the right way to feedback and by showing a willingness to change while making an effort not to alienate your audience.
However, this is often easier said than done – criticism typically triggers strong emotions and a defensive attitude. A few successful entrepreneurs share their best tips on how to handle negative feedback graciously.
- Cool down before you respond
The most important rule is not to take it personally, says Jared Weitz, a New York entrepreneur and CEO of United Capital Source Inc.
Weitz, who assists small enterprises to expand and reach their full potential, says when faced with negative feedback, you need to think about how to use it to improve.
“This allows the conversation to be directed immediately to solving the issues, as opposed to building conflict.”
- Put yourself in the other person’s shoes
“It is important to see yourself in the other person’s shoes,” said the American Matthew Capala (an experienced digital marketing manager). Try to see the issue – whether it is your excuses, your mindset and/or your biases – from the other person’s point of view.
According to Capala, negative feedback is as important as positive feedback for both the receiver and the giver. Feedback loops are one of the key elements of an effective team. “Create distance between your emotions and what the person is saying and remain objective when you receive feedback.”
- Take responsibility
When dealing with criticism, it is important to never cast the blame on someone else or to make excuses – even if it is about an issue you and your organisation is not entirely responsible for, says Zach Binder, a reputable Californian entrepreneur, marketer and consultant.
“It is better to take responsibility and to explain how you intend to right this wrong. It will only make matters worse if you try to shift the blame.”
- Evaluate yourself and your process
When receiving negative feedback, it is important to evaluate the cause of the problem – whether it is a personal issue (such as time management) or whether it stems from an ineffective process.
By first determining the cause of the problem, you can address the problem being brought to your attention more effectively and prevent it from recurring in future.
- Ask for further details
It is not always easy to figure out the cause of the problem, says Bryce Welker, CEO of Crush Empire.
“Sometimes there is just not enough information to work with.” To avoid this situation, Welker does his best to actively respond to any negative feedback received by his organisation by asking the criticising person for more details.
This helps to create a clearer picture of the issue so that both the business and the person giving the negative feedback can focus on more productive interactions in future.
- Treat all feedback as a gift
When someone gives you feedback, negative or otherwise, it can only help you, says Jaime Manteiga, a Cuban-American technology entrepreneur and member of the Forbes Council (an invitation only community for executive leaders and entrepreneurs in various industries).
Don’t focus on the insensitive delivery and/or on your personal opinion of the person criticising you. Ask advice on what you can improve upon. Then do not forget to follow up and show how you corrected the reported issue. In doing so, you prove that you are mature enough to correct your mistakes and that you are willing to improve.