Stacey calder

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How do you deal with negative feedback?

It's inevitable that at some point a business will receive negative feedback. It could be in any number of ways from an email, a tweet, a blog comment or one made in person. But how do you react to that feedback and how do you use it?

I'm sure at some point in your life you've had some kind of negative feedback and will be able to recall how that made you feel. Some feedback might anger you, other people feel sad or take it personally, others might just delete it from their computer and from their memory. Does it really matter?

I think it does. I think how we deal with negative feedback is key not only to improving ourselves and our business but to our emotional well being too. I've had some feedback recently regarding pricing, something which I've discussed for months (if not years) and I'm sure you have too. At first I was angry that someone hadn't understood the information I'd provided them with and that very quickly turned into hurt and sadness. Sometimes we have days where we feel the world is shitting on us and receiving negative feedback on these days leaves you questioning your business, why you bother and all the things in between. I know I'm not alone in having these days because my clients often talk about this and only this week I picked up on someone having a bad day just from something they posted on social media and hopefully the quick message conversation we had helped to pick them up and have a better day. So why do we let feedback make us feel like this? Is it just human nature?

So, how do we handle this kind of feedback? Of course we don't want to get angry at the customer/client/friend who has given it to us. We also don't want to get upset over it either. It can be hard to receive feedback and not respond to it straight away but taking 20 minutes out of your day before responding is a really helpful tip. It allows the human part of our brain to catch up with the chimp and computer part (those of you that have read The Chimp Paradox by Steve Peters will know where I'm coming from on this). So having got angry and sad I took myself off to make a cup of tea and have a think. I asked myself the following questions:

  • What was it I was emotional about?
  • Am I taking it personally?
  • Did they raise a good point?
  • How can I use it to improve?

I drank my tea and answered my own questions. I was probably being emotional because pricing has been such an area of focus for me since re-branding. I've had people tell me I'm too cheap but never to costly before. I was taking it personally, although it's my business the feedback wasn't about me personally. It raised the awareness that something isn't for everyone, and that maybe I didn't explain it as well as I could have originally. Eventually I did reply to them. I think our wires had crossed and I wanted to make sure, whether they were interested or not, they knew what I was offering which in fact didn't actually involve a price at all! Of course this all sounds very calm and considered and that's because I'm reflecting. If I'd have written this article when it happened, I'm sure it could have a much different tone to it.

People often ask me if they should just delete the comments from a post or blog so that others don't see them but I don't think that's the best idea. You can almost guarantee that no matter how quickly you delete a comment someone will have seen it. I think people actually respect you more when you reply and try to put it right, it shows your customers and clients that you do in fact work to resolve any issues that arise. Remember though, business isn't a one size fits all kind of thing. You will not please everyone.

So to recap:

  • Stop and take stock before replying to any feedback, do not reply in an emotional state.
  • Don't take it personally, the world is not against you.
  • Don't delete comments. Handle it and deal with it in a controlled way, turn the negative into a positive.

So, my final question. How do you deal with negative feedback?

Stacey CalderComment