Responding to Criticism

business woman responding to criticism

Have you received any criticism lately?

When you receive criticism do you go into fight or flight mode (the instinctive physiological response where you either ready yourself to resist forcibly or you run away)?  Which one is more common for you – fight or flight?

When criticism comes from a client, responding with either a fight or flight reaction is likely to damage the relationship. And since we work so hard to foster our client relationships, having an alternative reaction with an appropriate response is a huge benefit to maintaining rapport.

Years ago through my Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) studies I learned a simple 2 step process for responding to criticism.  It has come in handy so many times over the years.

Recently, I received some criticism from a client and instead of crawling back into bed and pulling the covers over my head (I tend to lean towards flight), I applied this strategy and kept the relationship in-tact as well as responded in a more resourceful way. The end result was the client felt heard and our business relationship continued.

A key step before responding is to ask yourself this question, “Do I agree with the criticism?” or an even simpler question to answer, “Is this true?”

Your Savvy Sales Tip this week: When you receive criticism, ask yourself, “Is this true?” before responding.

Give yourself time to formulate a more resourceful response to maintain the relationship with your client.

There are 3 possible scenarios to the question, “Is it true?”

Scenario 1: You agree with some or all of the criticism

Scenario 2: You’re not sure yet if you agree and would benefit from giving yourself time to think about how you’d like to respond

Scenario 3: You do not agree with the criticism

What are your typical responses to scenario 1, 2, and 3? Take a minute and think about the last time you received criticism. Chose which scenario (1, 2, or 3) fit with the criticism; you agreed, you weren’t sure yet, or you did not agree. How did you respond to your client? What was the resolution between you and your client? Is the relationship still in-tact? Or, are you no longer working together? Had you had some time to think about your response, would you have said or done anything differently?

In the situation I mentioned with my client, I did agree with some (not all) of the criticism. My response was to apologize in a kind way and take responsibility for my part in the breakdown in communication. Then I offered my client 2 options of what we could do to move forward. And now we’re back on track, continuing our business relationship.

The great thing about having a strategy is I'm ready when these criticisms seem to come out of nowhere. Instead of getting flustered, I’m able to maintain my composure and prioritize the relationship over my ego.

Wishing you continued success this week.

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