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Is unsolicited feedback worth listening to?

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It goes like this: after taking professional advice about her branding, the first business owner acted on the advice and changed her brand: she decided on a new name, tested it with a few people, bought the web domains, and wrote to her mailing list to tell them about the impending change.

But she then received two pieces of unsolicited feedback, telling her that she was an idiot and needed to go back to the drawing board with her new business branding.

The second business owner also received unsolicited feedback, this time about how detailing all the widely-different prices of all the services that she offers was damaging her business and credibility.

So we have two business owners who both received unsolicited feedback. Then what happened?

The first owner swallowed her pride and listened to the two very brave souls who were brave enough to point out her mistake, and went back to the drawing board to decide on a better business name. She then decided on an alternative name, and wrote a very honest email to her mailing list about her mistake. 

Guess what? She was innundated with emails from her mailing list saying that they supported her decision and apologised for not speaking up earlier.

The other business owner, on the other hand, hit out at the source of the feedback, took it as a personal attack and justified her current practices by saying that her friends thought it was fine.

So, what’s the lesson to learn?

1. Unsolicited feedback can be really painful – but it’s the truth that you need to sometimes hear.

2. When we see our business friends doing something silly, don’t keep quiet about it – ask them if you can give them some feedback.

3. The knowledge level of the individual giving you feedback can be very important to the value of the feedback you receive.

When you receive unsolicited feedback, what do you do – attack or listen?

Heather Townsend is the author of The Financial Times Guide To Business Networking. and the founder of The Efficiency Coach. Follow her Partnership Potential and Joined Up Networking blog for more useful tips and tricks.

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