Welcome to the Business Series written by Misty Lambrecht, the owner of Webfoot
Marketing and Design. With over 15 years of experience in business and advising in
Lincoln County, I have had my fair share of criticism. Ultimately, it's how you handle it
that truly defines you as both a business and a person. I categorize criticism into three types: those who simply don't like what you have to offer, competitors, and constructive criticism.
Let's start with the first type. I used to have a neighbor who absolutely despised
chocolate, which I found to be quite peculiar. If I owned a restaurant that only offers
chocolate-based desserts, and my neighbor criticized my restaurant with "all the
desserts are terrible" is there anything I can do about it? No matter how I respond, it's
unlikely to change my chocolate-hating neighbor's opinion of my triple chocolate
flourless cake, which I think is rather devine.
Their criticism is solely based on personal preference, not an objective evaluation. If I decide to add a dessert like Marionberry crisp to my menu, hoping that my neighbor would find it more to their liking, that's my prerogative. However, I don't have to or need to respond to their personal taste. The second form of criticism frequently originates from rivals, encompassing both individuals and businesses competing for the same local clients, tourists, contracts, and
potentially even funding. It can be tempting to succumb to the temptation of launching
counterattacks or getting entangled in a never-ending cycle of criticisms.
However, adopting a more effective approach involves taking the high road. Instead of engaging in direct confrontations, it is advisable to emphasize your accomplishments, highlight your strengths, showcase customer reviews, and underscore your unique value
proposition. It is crucial to refrain from attacking or directly comparing yourself to those
who criticize you. Displaying professionalism is key, as people are perceptive and will
be put off by unprofessional behavior. Always remember to uphold your integrity and
never compromise it by stooping to their level.
The third type of criticism is more direct and constructive. For example, if a person visits
a restaurant and finds their bathroom dirty, the person might provide feedback about the
issue. In such cases, it's essential to use constructive criticism to bring about change
within your business. Maybe you implement a policy for regular bathroom checks by
staff members. Thank the person for bringing the matter to your attention and explain
how you plan to address the problem. While it may not warrant offering them a free
meal, it does merit taking action, discussing the issue with them, thanking them, and
possibly even apologizing for the negative experience. Invite them to return and witness
the changes firsthand.
Regardless of the type of criticism you encounter, it's crucial not to retaliate or attack in
response. Instead, listen carefully, evaluate the core nature of the criticism, and
determine if it's something you can address or change. Is it constructive feedback, a
matter of personal opinion, or inappropriate conduct from a competitor? Maintain your
integrity, rise above the situation, and remember that even if you make a mistake, it
won't be your first or last. On the journey of greatness, you can't please everyone, but
holding your head high and handling criticism with grace is what truly matters.