There’s nothing better than a nicely brewed and dressed cup of tea to bring calm to a very rough day. Tea – especially green tea – can provide lots of positive health benefits. There is an art and science to brewing tea based on the type and water temperature. But there’s nothing worse than a bitter or tasteless cup of tea. After one sip of a poorly brewed cup of tea, the benefits and perceived value are forgotten because the contents are too difficult to swallow.
Likewise, as a leader in business, your ultimate aim is to provide a service or product that makes your clients’ lives easier and brings calm to their lives. You want to be seen, known and remembered for delivering value that’s appreciated. Feedback, evaluations and testimonials are some of the most effective ways to measure your clients’ satisfaction with your work.
Like a good cup of tea, positive feedback is always easy to swallow. However, when the experience doesn’t measure up to the promise for your client, it can leave a lasting and unpleasant taste. Likewise, for you as the recipient of negative feedback and criticism, it can leave you feeling a little bitter. But, as The Complete Leader, this doesn’t have to be true! RISE UP! Accept the reality that negative feedback is part of business. And remember, it’s up to you to set the tone and the direction for your business and the reputation of your leadership brand. Leverage your client’s feedback by allowing it to make you better instead of bitter.
Because you are in business to serve and support your clients’ needs, you must be prepared to hear what you are doing wrong without judging their motivates. Let’s face it, you can not please everyone. But you can gain a competitive advantage and make a memorable mark by being open to feedback and responding in a sincere, positive and non-defensive manner. When a client offers feedback and they feel that you genuinely care about their troubles and want to meet their needs, it builds a connected relationship. Client feedback can be invaluable when seen in a positive light.
To help you protect and manage your leadership brand by responding positively, here are six things you can do to respond like The Complete Leader in business:
1. Be Professional- For entrepreneurs, the word “professionalism” can easily create images of being aloof, cold, distant and rigid; in a black or navy blue business suit. But for The Complete Leader, being “professional” is about demonstrating empathy and emotional intelligence as you stand in the gap to serve and support your clients. This also applies when receiving feedback. Professionalism is the ability to conduct yourself in a responsible manner with civility, integrity, accountability and excellence. It’s an essential soft skill that allows you to engage authentically as you meet the needs of others. As a business leader, become known for adding value by communicating thoughtfully and productively to your clients. Here are a few tips:
- Always over deliver on your promise
- Speak clearly, confidently and politely
- Strive to maintain a standard of excellence
- Dress appropriately
2. Be Open– Being open means listening to criticism and feedback when it’s offered without being defensive or interrupting. Maintaining open communication also means requesting feedback from your customers on a regular basis. Let people know that you welcome their ideas and feedback equally. Being open also involves creating an approachable presence by willingly sharing honestly to build rapport. Win their trust by encouraging an open door and open heart policy. This will communicate that you care about what matters to them and that you want to have a healthy business relationship.
3. Communicate with Empathy- When you genuinely understand where your clients are coming from, you will know the response most fitting for the situation. However, this requires developing a capacity for empathy. You must be willing to put yourself in their shoes. Connect with their heart and emotions. This type of communication requires a mixture of strength, grace and warmth. So look for ways to connect and understand the situation from their perspective. Be willing to embrace the positive as well as the negative. Think before you speak and communicate to give them a piece of your heart rather than your mind. Make it about them, not you.
4. Be Flexible- Expect things to change when it comes to needs and situations. Listen objectively to criticism and negative feedback with an attitude that welcomes new ideas and flexibility. The truth is that feedback often leads to improvements that will produce greater results for the good of all. To thrive, don’t get too attached to certain ideas or ways of doing things in your business. Know from the start that all things are subject to change at all times, so be willing to compromise. Adapting to stay relevant is a worthwhile investment. And don’t be afraid to admit when you are wrong or need to course correct.
5. Watch Your Body Language- We must be astute enough to pick up social and non-verbal cues. Studies show that up to 93% of the information we communicate comes through nonverbal communication – gestures, eye contact, posture, personal space, and all the other ways we use our bodies to send messages. Therefore, when receiving and responding to criticism and feedback, align your nonverbal and verbal communication so that it matches the core message you desire to send. Stay present. Too often, we do things without thinking about them, especially when we are busy. Take time to notice both your nonverbal communication and that of others, and especially your reaction to others.
For example, pay attention to how you use your body when you are talking or listening to someone in general. Watch your stance, eye contact, placement of arms, hand movements, etc. Then when listening to criticism or feedback from your customers, make it a practice to be aware of your body language and what it may be communicating. And in turn, pay particular attention to the non-verbal cues of your customer. This holds clues not only about what is being said but also about what’s not said. So, learn to listen with your eyes and heart!
6. Create the Best Y-O-U– Allow criticism and negative feedback – even if ill-intended – to make you a much better leader. Choose to lead well and dig deep within to find the strength to push past the pain and disappointment. This is a great time for you to intentionally choose to show up as the BEST version of yourself. Investigate the comments and look closer to see where adjustments can be made. Sometimes it takes criticism and negative feedback to make the best you become great. Rise above it so that you can soar. Leave a dent by creating your best work possible.
The way you connect with customers and clients after receiving criticism and negative feedback is crucial to the health and growth of your business and leadership brand. Great business leaders are willing to courageously drink from this cup. With a positive response, you may be surprised that your clients are willing to come back for more of the value you deliver!
In the spirit of open communication and learning, I want to hear from you. What tactics or tips do you use to respond positively to feedback? I would love to hear your response. Please comment below!