Throughout my career, I’ve tended to internalize feedback to my work – especially negative feedback. Even if criticism wasn’t intended, I would analyze every sentence, statement and word and roll it over in my head. It is not that I become defensive, or reactive – I just dwell a little too long on things I should hear and then move on from. It is a distraction and a nuisance and has held me back from being as innovative as I want to be. Now that I am in business for myself, this personal obstacle is something I am dedicated to overcoming.
If you or someone on your team doesn’t handle criticism well, or tends to internalize or overthink feedback, these are some tips that might help.
When you get bad news, change the subject.
When you receive not-so-great feedback on something you worked hard on, a gut reaction may be to become defensive or embarrassed. Don’t. In fact, don’t react at all. Instead, politely accept the feedback and immediately change gears and force yourself to do something else. If you lose a client, get out for a run before you do anything else. If your business gets a terrible review online, close your laptop and don’t reread it 50 times or worse, write a harsh reply. Give yourself at least a couple of hours to process everything. You will eliminate over-reaction, you will not say things you can’t unsay, and you may even avoid behaving regrettably in front of your team. Step away, you will gain much respect for it (and you will thank yourself later.)
Take More Risks.
I was never much of a risk taker. Before proposing many ideas, I would float them to different team members in a variety of ways with a variety of different approaches. I would try to predict moves and decisions. I would always be over-prepared for meetings – usually wasting my own time. It was exhausting and boring. I never put myself out there until now – because now I have no choice. And every time I make a bold move, everything that goes along with the risk, gets easier. I am doing my best. What more can I do? You put yourself out there, sometimes you are going to get shoved back to where you were. And that’s ok. You give it a couple of hours, pick up your things, and try again later.
Each time, you will feel your confidence grow, if only by a fraction.
Shut it down.
When you have worked up the courage to take your risk, do it with confidence and focus on something completely different. If you send a proposal off to a company, avoid the urge to check your email 100 times in a one hour period for a response. Give yourself a schedule for checking in on it, and stick to it. Divide your life into your work time, and your living time. I know this line is so muddled and murky but it is so important to disconnect. Don’t let an email ruin a Saturday with your kids. Don’t let a resignation interrupt a phone call with your father. Be present in everything that you do and encourage your team to do the same. Shut it down, enjoy life – it will all be there when you come back to it. Don’t live life halfway with constant distraction.
Don’t give up.
Just don’t do it. There are going to be some days where you lose big, financially and otherwise. There are going to be the days your head is going to win the battle and you will just feel defeated and deflated. You are going to want to quit so many times on this journey. Like my favorite Shark, Barbara Corcoran says: I want to put my money on entrepreneurs who know how to get back up fast after they’ve been kicked in the gut. I want to be one of those entrepreneurs. Here’s to hoping we can get there.