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How To Use Criticism Successfully

Thursday, June 11, 2015   By Mike Reddy


As a business coach often brought in to help build a business, I would suggest you don’t have the luxury of shying away from criticism.

It is inherent - there will be times when it feels like its coming from all sides as you make decision after decision, simply trying to keep the motors running.

Accept the criticisms. Underneath what seems unhelpful, unwarranted and possibly plain cruel lies some element of truth and therefore some element open to improvement.

How can you dig through the criticism to find the hidden meaning?  Here are some of my business coaching tips.

First off - resist the urge to be reactionary. Yes, the insult may be close to home, as business owners internalise every dig at their decision-making but try to hear past that.

The criticiser more often than not truly believes they are offering up advice.  Try to hear it from their perspective or ask them to rephrase in a different, more positive light.

Now that you have heard it in a different way, try to localise it and identify the problem area. Was the comment reflecting poor customer service? Find out specifics - at which stage in the sales process was this effect felt?

Take note of the areas of improvement and implement change. The worse thing that can happen is you get dinged on the very same thing, repeatedly. This in fact, reflects poorly on you as a business owner. Always act on criticisms.

Reflect on what did not get criticised. Was the comment about a faulty product? Was the customer satisfied other than with the small glitch? Ask around the critique to pull for positive information as well. If you handle the problem, the customer will more likely remember the positives.

It is okay to let the criticism hurt, to let your ego take a blow. But don’t dwell. Before assigning weight to the comment, consider whom the critique came from and what their intentions were.  This will help determine your course of action.

Mike Reddy is a Chartered Accountant, business coach and advisor helping businesses in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Gold Coast to easily increase their profits and cash flow. He is currently President of the North Sydney Chamber of Commerce, a Regional Councillor for Sydney North East and a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants Sydney leadership team. As well as advising businesses, Mike presents business development seminars and webinars and is regularly contacted by the media to comment on small business matters. You can connect with him on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.