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How Emotionally Intelligent Entrepreneurs Accept Criticism Without Freaking Out

Whether it’s constructive or just plain mean, criticism comes with the entrepreneurial territory. No worries, you can handle it.

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BY Marla Tabaka - 06 Dec 2018

accept criticism without freaking out

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Living life as a creative entrepreneur is in many ways a fulfilling experience, but it also carries with it a certain level of emotional exposure. Inevitably, someone will criticize your work or the way you are running your business. This can feel intimidating, even overwhelming. In the worst of times, criticism and negativity can stop an entrepreneur from taking the chances necessary to grow.

By engaging your emotional intelligence, you can take constructive criticism into account and allow comments that aren't valuable to roll off your back with little consequence.

Allow some vulnerability.

To avoid feelings of defeat, entrepreneurs must come to terms with some level of vulnerability. This requires courage, strength, and confidence. Uncertainty may set in when someone makes a snarky remark about your products or questions your pricing, but you can remain in control. In fact, there is an upside to vulnerability. Dr. Bren Brown says it well:

"Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity."

Each time you embrace your vulnerability and put yourself out there, as you do in social media or a webinar, for instance, you are broadening the field of opportunity. You never know when an opening for the advancement of your business, or a killer sale, may arise.

Change your perspective.

By changing your perspective on criticism you can stop negative people from getting under your skin. Why waste a perfectly good day on preoccupation about your product's value and questioning your own creativity and worthiness? Knock 'em dead with confidence and let the skeptics go in another direction.

Stop wondering what people think. Just ask.

No one is a mind reader. In a face-to-face meeting you might interpret someone's facial expressions as being negative when, in reality, they are caught in a moment of utter admiration of you and your offerings. Don't let vulnerable feelings stop you digging deeper into the conversation, even if it feels risky. There will be times when others disagree and disengage, but just dismiss it as a matter of conflicting tastes. Well, unless it happens all of the time; then you have a problem to dig into.

Don't take on the stress of someone else's bad day.

We're all human and we all have bad days--some more than others. We have no way of knowing what is going on in someone else's life and how it's affecting them. A person who makes a snarky remark or avoids responding to you may be having an emotional response to something else entirely. While they certainly shouldn't take their problems out on others, there are people who find an act of aggression healing in some way--a method of escaping from their real problems. This doesn't excuse rude behavior but knowing that in all likelihood it's not about you will help lessen the blow.

Speak up about your value.

I am not in support of the "customer is always right" theory. No, sometimes they are dead wrong. While it's important to pay attention to what your market wants, you are the expert. If someone questions your fees or pricing, efficiently demonstrate the value of your offering. Never put down the competition, focus only on your brand and culture. Whatever your pricing logic talk about it in a kind, confident, matter-of-fact manner to educate your prospective customer.

Stop striving to please everyone.

The world would be a very dull place if we all had the same opinions, needs, likes, and dislikes. The more effort you put into trying to please everyone, the more disappointment and criticism you'll face. The more you hold yourself to an impossible ideal, the more easily you will give up.

Focus instead on creating a unique brand that captures the essence of how you think and feel. Some people will love it, some will hate it. That is a sign of a successful brand.

Laugh about it.

Laughter is an antidote to disappointment and stress. According to studies at Mayo Clinic, laughter enhances your intake of oxygen-rich air, stimulates your heart, lungs, and muscles and increases the production of endorphins. If you don't see anything funny about the situation, think about something funny and get a good giggle out of it to relieve the stress.

Separate yourself from your product or service.

Your work may feel like an extension of you because it is. Still, it does not represent every part of you. You are a complex individual whose depth and understanding of the world goes far beyond your offerings. Your business is just one expression of who you are, so when someone has nothing but criticism to offer, don't take it personally. I'll bet they talk that way to everyone!

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