React Right: Here's Why You Should Fix Your Feedback Loops

What do you do when you're accused of doing something wrong? Here's a look at four different ways one can react in such circumstances.

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What do you do when you’re accused of doing something wrong?

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As entrepreneurs, you might have experienced such a scenario in a variety of contexts. Maybe the charge is coming from a customer who is upset for not receiving a service or product in the manner your business had promised it to them. Or perhaps it’s from an employee pointing out a flaw or two in the way you’re running your organization.

Over the course of my career, I’ve been privy to several such situations play out in both private and public settings, and I now believe that there are essentially four different ways one can react in these kinds of circumstances. The first of these (and perhaps the most immature way to go about things) is to take such complaints as some sort of a personal attack, and, as a result, go on the offensive when responding to it, without even taking the time to actually analyze the issue, and seeing if there’s something at fault that needs to be corrected.

The second approach I want to highlight is one that’s in direct contrast to the first- here, the accusation is heard fully and objectively, and then dealt with in a fair manner. For instance, if an investigation reveals something to be actually wrong, then the necessary steps are taken to fix the problem at hand, while also trying to ensure that it doesn’t come up again. It’s an effective approach, even if the accusation is found to be false or flawed- it is still being responded to, and I think we’d all like to know that we are being heard rather than ignored.

Unfortunately, many don’t seem to agree with that notion- that would explain why the third common way entrepreneurs and businesses react to any form of criticism is by putting their heads in the sand about all of it, and just letting things simmer as they are. The thinking behind such a response is often an ardent hope that such things will either be forgotten if ignored, or that they will somehow get sorted out by themselves in the long run- but this is rarely, if ever, the case. 

And that brings me to the fourth strategy one can make use of when confronted with such accusations, which is to feign acceptance and understanding of the issues that are being brought to light, but then put in only stopgap solutions for them, or worse, do nothing about them at all.

I personally find this to be the most disturbing of the four responses to these kinds of situations; however, the argument can be made that it is an efficient solution to the problem at hand, and it’s one that I’ve been seeing increasingly being adopted by both individuals and businesses in the world that we live in today. Having said that, while such tactics may appear to work in the short term, they almost always lead to bigger problems down the road- all of which could have been avoided had one decided to simply do the right thing at the get-go.

So, the next time you find yourselves or your businesses at the brunt end of an accusation, which of the four approaches will you adopt? I’d imagine your internal debate to be between taking the aforementioned effective route or simply the efficient one, and if so, I’d suggest keeping these words by revered management guru Peter Drucker in mind as you make your choice: “Efficiency is concerned with doing things right. Effectiveness is doing the right things.”

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