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How to take criticism in business

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“To avoid criticism say nothing, do nothing, be nothing.” 

  • Aristotle

However much you try to please everyone and do your best in business you will never be perfect and like it or not at some stage you will receive criticism.

I’m always in search of self-improvement, and criticism is one way we can all self-improve. If someone says I’ve done something wrong, or am failing in some area, I take notice. If the criticism is well-founded, I take action to rectify or improve the matter. 

If a criticism is justified, it’s pointless to get defensive and deny the truth. It’s also pointless to apologize, but do nothing to rectify the problem. As an entrepreneur you should already be good at turning negatives into a positives, so see criticism as they same, what positive can I take away?

Now a tip I will give you from my over 20 years of business experience, Think before you make your first reaction. Normally I say you should deal with emails or letters quickly, however I find its better to postpone your first reaction and maybe have a think first. If you do want to compose an email reply DO NOT send it until you have had some time to think. Always start with thanking the person for bringing the matter to your attention and do not get into a defensive slanging match. 

It’s very fashionable right now for companies to ask their customers, “Are we providing a good service, or have we messed up?” This is all well and good, as long as these companies actually listen to the customers and take action. After all, for every one customer who complains, there may be a hundred more who don’t say a word.

Now you also may get serial moaning customers that really are just looking to pick faults and get a discount or have too much time on your hands, with time you will learn to spot them, back when I was starting out I admit I took criticism badly, these days I find its just easiest to give a friendly refund and move on, your time is too valuable to get clogged up with these type of customers. 

In certain businesses many complaints and criticisms will in fact come from competitors. When I owned various TV channels, which are highly regulated, I would say most of the complaints were far too technical to have come from members of the public.

So to summarise, all successful businesses will get complaints and criticism, the important factor is that you deal with them effetely and you move on.

Vince Stanzione is an entrepreneur and author of ‘The Millionaire Dropout’.

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