Are You Brave Enough to Listen to Constructive Criticism?
I left a message for a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) a few days ago. Today, her assistant called me back to vet me, to see if I am worthy of speaking to her boss.
I like most people, but within five minutes, I really disliked this assistant. I asked her, "If I decide to hire your boss as my CFP, will I be working mostly with her or with you?"
She said, "She will work out your main strategy, but mostly you'll be working with me."
I called her back fifteen minutes and canceled the appointment.
You know as well as I do that there's about a one in a million chance that the CFP will ever call me and ask, "So why did you decide not to work with me?" But, I'm a well-qualified prospect who really wanted her services. If she knew the way the assistant is treating her prospects, would she retrain, reassign or replace her?
It is human nature to ignore what we don't want to hear. Those of us who believe in the power of positive thinking tell ourselves we don't want to hear anything negative. Those of us who are making decent money don't want to take the time to understand how to go from "enough" to that level of excellence where real profitability is hiding. Most entrepreneurs are far too busy to listen to the most important communication we can possibly receive.
By failing to assess all feedback boldly and with humility, we are losing what may be the most valuable business-building advice we will ever get: the truth about other people's experiences with us, our team and our businesses.
Related: 50 Rules for Being a Great Leader
Of course, it is easier to just rest on our laurels rather than to commit to continual improvement, especially if it requires facing some hard truths.
When we are brave enough to listen to honest feedback freely given, we can quickly make whatever changes are necessary to improve our interactions with customers, staff and any other stakeholders. It is critical to going from "good enough" to flourishing and growing. The changes we implement as a result of well-considered feedback allow us to do more of what it takes to make people pleased to do business with us (read: increases your profits) and less of what they don't.
Every business hears positive and negative feedback about itself. Those who say negative things (on Yelp, to their friends or to you) are not necessarily all wrong. These naysayers are giving us insights that may be valuable.
It may be embarrassing to hear in the short run, but for those willing to listen and then swiftly adapt, the benefit of facing an embarrassing truth is extraordinary and rapid success.