As a business owner particularly when you are starting out, ‘constructive criticism’ is something that you get in spades. Some of the criticism is great, it tells you things about yourself and your company that you didn’t know. Other times it can feel like a direct attack, so how do you know the difference and how do you find the silver lining?
Consider the source
Sometimes the criticism comes from a good place, sometimes meant with only the purest intentions and other times it is meant specifically to derail your efforts. The trick is being able to decipher which situation is which. If you are speaking to someone who is giving you the pros and cons, it’s safe to give the criticism some objective attention. If the advice is framed like a personal attack, ‘you don’t really have an idea here’ or ‘this is terrible’ I think it’s safe to take the criticism with a grain of salt. Sometimes your constructive criticism is more about the giver’s insecurities than your lack of focus.
Forget the delivery and hear the message
As hard as it is to get around tone and delivery, sometimes there is such a huge message in the criticism. The thing about cheerleaders is that they don’t always tell us what we are doing wrong and when you’re running a business, you need someone who will call you on the carpet. I have a few, they all deliver criticism in a different way but the bottom line is that when I make a bad decision or behave badly they call me on it. Personal dislike or a rude delivery often hide the message, but sometimes the only person that will tell you the truth is the person who doesn’t care if your feelings will get hurt.
Forget your insecurities
The biggest problem that business owners face when receiving criticism is that it always feels like a personal attack. That feeling stems from the fact that we have a never ending belief that we are not good enough to run this business and that feeling is always at odds with the required insanely optimistic nature of many entrepreneurs. Criticism is just that, criticism. Sometimes it helps, sometimes it doesn’t. The trick is knowing that you are good enough to be successful.
Aside from the new age feeling of this post, I believe that criticism is valuable in whatever form you receive it. You are building an empire and that means that you have to surround yourself with people who will take you to the next level, and those people are not going to tell you what you want to hear.
Jim Nico says
Thank you for your interesting insights which got me thinking. For my part, and I know you know this, I can accept criticism if there really is a nugget of practical wisdom. I think the most important part of criticism is based on the end result and whether this information really helped. If my next steps in business are more refined because of what somebody taught me I am always grateful.