Negative feedback makes us either bitter or better. While ignorance may be bliss, listening to and accepting justified criticism is the only way we can grow and improve.
If you are anything like me, you probably don’t enjoy receiving negative feedback. Even today, I struggle to accept negative feedback and would prefer to ignore it. But I’ve come to realise that an inability to tolerate negative feedback is an inability to allow personal growth.
Let’s face it, business people have a propensity to fish for compliments. We often encourage our clients to praise our services to their family and friends, but rather than seeking only good feedback, we should start seeking just feedback.
Many of us have fragile egos and are not receptive to constructive criticism, but it is often unwanted news that leads to positive adjustments and self-improvement. As bruising as it may be, we need to start listening to what we need to hear, not just what we want to hear, because if we are genuinely serious about raising the bar, we need to embrace the good, the bad and the ugly.
Here are my top five tips on dealing with feedback:
1. Stop cherry-picking
Whether it be the link for a review hosting site or an internal equivalent, ensure that all clients are afforded the opportunity to provide feedback. A client will vent their dissatisfaction regardless, and it’s better to face the music and limit the damage than to duck below the parapet and potentially have your name and reputation discredited on social media.
2. Grow thick skin
We are hardwired to take negative feedback personally. To succeed in business, you need to master and overcome rejection, so we should already be used to threats to our self-esteem. Remember, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
3. Arm’s length
Studies have demonstrated that consumers are far more inclined to provide an honest assessment if they are providing feedback to an impartial third party. By dealing with you directly, clients can feel a sense of obligation and are inclined to sugar coat feedback, as they do not want to say anything that might hurt your feelings.
You cannot manage what you cannot measure, so defining and assessing customer centricity is essential. Ultimately, all feedback should be measurable, otherwise you won’t know whether you are improving or not. Implementing something as simple as a Net Promoter Score should suffice.
5. Hug your haters
We have a tendency to dismiss negative feedback, becoming defensive and trying to discredit it rather than facing up to it, but research shows that tackling it head-on often leads to a favourable outcome. If you deal with negative feedback properly, studies show that you can actually convert ‘haters’ into brand advocates.
Douglas Driscoll is the CEO of real estate network Starr Partners and a renowned thought leader in the real estate industry.