We all know that constructive criticism can be incredibly helpful for any business or idea. After all, if you’ve come up with an innovative new idea that you’re planning on turning into a great new business, you may be so invested in it that you don’t see a few improvements it needs before it goes to market. You might also have a blind spot for a problem that could stand in the way of success.

Even knowing this, it can be difficult to detach yourself from your ideas and your business. Criticism of something that you’ve created can feel a lot like criticism of you. And, if you take criticism personally, you can start to think that the person giving the criticism just doesn’t like you or has something against you personally, making them see your idea or business in a skewed light. The truth is that you’re probably the one seeing things from a skewed perspective, and it could harm your business.

So how can you learn to let it go and take criticism gracefully, whether or not it’s constructive and positive for your business? Follow a few simple steps.

IT’S NOT AN INSULT

Whether they’re a client, a partner, an investor, or anyone else, when someone gives you criticism, repeat to yourself, “It’s not an insult,” or, “It’s not about me.” Remember, whether the person giving the criticism means well or they’re trying to be mean, they’re talking about your business, product, or service, not you.

Yes, you take your business very seriously, and you feel like it’s your baby sometimes, but that doesn’t mean that your ideas are beyond reproach. If you keep calm, remind yourself that it’s not about you, take a breath, and listen, you’ll be in a better position to evaluate the criticism and decide whether or not it’s valid feedback that could help your business.

ASK QUESTIONS 

As you listen to someone’s critiques, pay attention and then ask questions. Ask for clarification, specific examples, and more details on a specific issue. The more you understand about a person’s perspective and how they view potential problems or improvements, the more information you’ll have on how their critique could help you, and you’re less likely to see it as a slight against you or your business.

RESPOND POSITIVELY 

After listening objectively and asking questions, you should have a good idea of where your criticizer is coming from. Now you can respond with your own perspective. It’s okay to disagree with them, but don’t respond in anger. Instead, start with something positive, like, “I can see where X would do Y for the business…” Then you can talk productively about where you agree and disagree, and the person critiquing your business or idea may see your perspective and come up with better recommendations. As a result of this conversation, the two of you could reach a much better solution than either of you saw at the beginning.

THANK THEM FOR THEIR INPUT 

Whether or not you come to a positive solution, and even if you completely disagree with their critiques, don’t forget to sincerely thank them for their feedback and input. Doing this will make people feel more comfortable approaching you with issues and critiques, as well as positive feedback. You never know when one of your employees, investors, or partners might have an incredible idea that could put your business over the top, so stay positive, thank them for their feedback, and really take it into consideration, and you’ll be on your way to more success in short order.

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