Gracefully Accepting Constructive Criticism: Making the Best Use of Someone’s Good Intentions.
I want to start off by placing the emphasis on “good intentions”. That is the way that I believe that we need to receive or take in constructive criticism when we’re dealing with our business or our clients. We need to be asking for feedback along the way. Particularly when we are starting out or we may be trying out different services or products. Asking for feedback will allow us to understand how our products and services are landing with our clients. From the feedback we will be able to tell if our services are beneficial to our client or not and it will also give us a sense of knowing when and what to tweak if it’s needed. In other words, you will get to know your client better. If you have a client and you’ve set a timeline for contracted services and that time is coming to an end part of your process should be some kind of an “exit interview”. In some cases you may find that you will receive unsolicited or off the cuff feedback. I would encourage you to accept that criticism as a gift from someone who is really trying to point out something to you that you might not see from your perspective. Look at that as a blessing and a lesson moving forward. The process of getting that feedback, for an entrepreneur, is like a life blood. We need that so that we can grow forward; more productive, more efficient and be more of a benefit to our clients. Being able to bring our best and providing the best for the people who we are supporting, the people who we are engaging, our teams and our clients.
Ask for specifics
Lots of times when the person who is providing the feedback, they themselves come at it from a high level because they don’t want us to take it negatively. They don’t want us to take it in a way where we may not embrace it but instead just blow it off as a “complaint for complaining sake”. The truth is the person providing the feedback doesn’t want to hurt your feelings as they are just trying to share their experience which can be helpful or beneficial to you. From our perspective, it’s not necessarily easy to hear the feedback from the client that their experience hasn’t been 100% or it hasn’t been that A+++, We may just say we’ll take that level of criticism and we’ll just accept it at that high level and not want to get down in details but we need to ask for the specifics because if we don’t know, how can we approve? If we don’t know how can we ensure that we don’t make the same error again in the future? In my interactions, there are times that I may have been doing something that I thought was beneficial or helpful to the client. I’m thinking that I am being proactive and providing information so that they are aware of what’s coming. Per example, at time I can be overly detailed. However for my client may not need “all” of that information. They may prefer to avoid the “hows” of the processing stage and tend to just want to be informed of the finished product. From my perspective, I’m being helpful and I’m giving you everything you need but from their perspective they don’t need all that... “Just tell me how to get to or when we’ve reached the final product”. Therefore, ask specific questions. It will help you come to an understanding of if or how you would need to tweak your behaviors. It maybe something that no one else has ever said. It maybe something where you need to make changes across the board or it may be something where you may need to make certain tweaks specific to each client but it is something that you will need to explore, discuss and act on.
There may be times where things are being brought to your attention but you’re not sure how to improve. You’re not sure how you should make that step towards the change, You’re not sure if it should be drastic or minimal and you may not know which direction to go in. You have several options. You can continue to have conversations with the person that brought it to you and let them know that you hear and respect what they have said and that you want to improve on it. Do they have any suggestions for what would have worked better for them? You can also solicit help from colleagues, or business partners and let them know the way that you handled it and ask for their opinions based on their experiences with criticism.
Share your Progress
It is human nature for us to share our progress. Whether its work or family, we can share our experiences and show by example to others how they can do incorporate practices which would make their life and task easier. You can inform of your progress personally however actions will solidify the changes that were made based on the criticism received. That way the recipient can not only hear but also see what you are doing and how you are moving forward.