April 26, 2007

How do you deal with your critics?

Received Alexandria Brown's newsletter today and the topic really resonated with me.

I know I’m not for everybody and am actually quite comfortable with that.

I’m quite a straight talker. Some people don’t like that and that’s okay with me.

I started off my newsletter in the very beginning (2002) by sending it to friends. They, in turn, sent it to their friends and of course, my mailing list grew quite a bit once I went online. When those same friends unsubscribed, I would feel hurt and have to deal with feelings of rejection just the same as anybody else. (Incidentally, I have very few of those original friends on my list now. Why is a question for another day!)

I run lots of workshops and I have always had raving fans until one particular workshop. Now I know that you can’t always tell by someone’s facial expressions because some people who seem very quiet are actually just absorbing everything and do give me glowing testimonials later.

But this lady was definitely unimpressed by me. She participated but was not very open. I don't know what I did or didn't do that she liked. Usually people get my "style" from the weekly emails I send out so if they buy a workshop spot, they already feel quite comfortable with me. Of course, it is always WONDERFUL to put faces to all the email contact.

Well, this one lady wrote on her feedback form that I talked too much and I kept babbling about personal examples. Objectively, I know that’s true and in fact, that’s what people seem to like (lots of examples). And of course, people are paying to hear me talk.

But the way she said it (which you could pick up in her written tone) just didn’t sit well with me. I do have quite a tough outer shell so most things just don’t bother me but quite honestly, I had to keep telling myself that it was just 1 person out of many.

So how do I deal with my critics?
1. I try not to take it personally.

It’s a lot easier now with a big mailing list and you can see the subscriptions rolling right on in. I must be doing something right, right?! In the beginning, with my friends, I just told myself, “it’s not me they’re rejecting; it’s my message” and that’s okay. Really. Not everyone wants to improve their life. I couldn’t understand this at first but it is true.

2. I try to get constructive criticism out of it.

For instance, because of this lady, I am now conscious and make sure that I don’t babble too much ;) and I also check with the group if they want more examples before just bombarding them.

3. I look at my positive feedback document.

This is a good self-esteem booster for anybody, but especially business owners. Everytime someone sends me a nice email, I copy and paste their words, with the date into my document. Then when I feel a bit grumpy or “is anybody out there? Does anybody actually read this stuff I spend hours slaving over?” I just open the document and encourage myself. [The Bible says we must encourage ourselves so that’s what I do ;)]

4. My goal is just one
I hold myself accountable to the Starfish principle where if I make a difference to just one person, I'm a success.

I learnt this principle from Alison (SA moticational speaker) and she ends her talks by talking about the man on the beach throwing the individual starfish back into the ocean. She then says "if you're my starfish today, come tell me afterwards".

How do you deal with your critics? And are you my starfish today?


Coach J said...

I don't know the starfish story, but I can tell you that you've helped me in so many ways!! The number one being my Google reader. I feel like I'm better controlling my time and don't have to go in and out of blogs to see if they've posted anything new. It's all right there! And I love it. I love that you took personal email time JUST FOR ME. Over here in the USA when it was bedtime for you. I think you are a giving person.

Suzanne said...

Critics? What critics? ;o) I actually have a couple ways to combat the negative thought waves;

1) I have a Warm Fuzzy File. Anything positive I receive from family, friends, loved ones, clients, random unknown emails that weren't meant for me, and a couple that I made up for myself. Whenever I am feeling less than loved, I puruse through my file until I am smiling again.

2) I imagine them in front of a goalie net with the entire Calgary Flames hockey team shooting pucks at them. Oops, I didn't mean that!

Honestly, I don't mind the constructive critism if anything it is welcoming. If it is a personal attack, I just keep in the back of my mind that they were probably cut off in traffic, stuck on the freeway in 120 degree weather with no A/C and they lost their favorite pen. That's why they are pissy. It helps!

Marcia said...

Coach J
Aaah - you're so sweet. You do know that is going in my (new name) Warm Fuzzy file?!
I really just wanted to help you because I could sense your frustration :)

Great tips! I’m changing the name of my file to Warm Fuzzy (much better than Positve Feedback)

And I love that (lost their favourite pen!).