I write and produce videos on career advancement. Every time I post a piece of content, I almost always get immediate feedback on it.
The feedback comes in all different forms of communication: Email, text message, Facebook messenger, LinkedIn comments, Whatsapp, and the occasional phone call. It comes from friends, families, and followers of my work.
The feedback I receive from my family and close friends tends to be the hardest for me to accept--not because it comes from my friends and family, but because the feedback they give tends to be more brutally honest. It never comes with an "I hope this doesn't offend you" sentence, either. It's usually direct: "I think your video isn't good and you should probably remove it."
Now, maybe I have bad friends and a mean family? I think they're in it to help me. I really do.
It's taken me time to understand how to accept this feedback. It's hard to accept because not only is it brutal, it's usually the truth.
The video wasn't that great. The typo in my email newsletter was pretty big. The article wasn't that interesting.
So, here's my five-step process to handling criticism:
1. Thank the person for the feedback, calmly.
The keyword here is "calmly," which is, of course, easier said than done. Don't take it personally. As your business grows, criticism will come from every angle, including employees and clients. So, it's best to start off calm.
2. Ask the question "Do you have any examples of work that you like that is similar to mine?"
I like to put the ball in their court. About 90 percent of the time, I will never get an answer to this question because they don't have any examples.
All they know is that they don't like it. This is my signal to them that the next time they don't like something, they have to have something similar in mind or offer better feedback so I can improve my art.
3. Step away from your work for at least a week.
Have you ever heard about actors who don't watch their work when it's aired? I'm kind of like that with the writing and videos that I produce.
I publish it and move on. I can't get too attached to the work. Otherwise, I'll go crazy thinking about all the ways I can improve it.
Your clients don't expect you to create something new every day. If you let the work settle, it will give you time to process your customers' feedback. It's the best for you and your business.
4. Create something new again.
Creating something new creates closure for me. If I created the worst video in the history of humanity, it would be forgotten as soon as I create something new.
I don't go back and try to fix the video or article that was criticized. I let it stay out there for the world to see. I sit down and create something brand new again.
Even though you don't have to create new art every day, the best marketing tool for your business is to keep creating. Whether it's content or improvement of a product, improvement is necessary.
5. Start asking for criticism.
I found that criticism of my work is much easier to accept if I asked for it in the first place. Unsolicited feedback sometimes catches you off guard and causes anxiety because you just spent a ton of time creating something only to find out people don't like it.
So, start asking for criticism anytime you create something. That is, of course, if you want to receive feedback on your work.
When I was writing my latest book, I would ask people for feedback. After I received their input, I'd tell them to pretend they just paid $100 for the book--and I'd ask for new feedback with that context.
The new feedback was usually entirely different from the original feedback. Raising the price they paid for the book allowed them to be more honest with me, since there was a value associated with it.
In the end, criticism is going to be an everyday part of your life anytime you publish something publicly. Embrace it, and once you learn to accept feedback, ask for more of it.