It’s never fun to hear people spout negative opinions about you, whether you know them or not. Unfortunately, this happens far more often than we’d like when running a business which makes it vital to develop a thick skin. We have sweated and toiled setting up a business we think will benefit people in our community, and to have them turn around with critical words and, sometimes, very harsh comments about our products or how we’ve performed our service really smarts. For an in-depth look at customer reviews, check out this blog post.
Rather than giving the trite, “Buck up, ol’ gal (or pal),” let’s talk about practical ways to brace ourselves for those negative reviews and work on reframing them so we can respond appropriately when they happen.
7 Ways to Develop a Thick Skin
- Don’t avoid confrontation.
Conflicts, regardless of why they exist, are always unpleasant; but it’s important to understand that avoiding these confrontations doesn’t address the issues that created them, nor does it protect your reputation to others who end up reading the disgruntled comments.
Responding to reviews is a vital part of managing your (and your business’s) reputation, especially when they’ve made harsh accusations. To collect key tips about responding to reviews, check out this blog post. In short, you’re protecting your reputation to the public. Don’t avoid it because it’s uncomfortable, rather use this opportunity to develop a thick skin.
- Bad reviews aren’t personal.
In the business world, conflicts are rarely personal. A customer doesn’t get their expectations met and so they blast the service and write a nasty review. They aren’t attacking your personal character… they are simply venting. Try not to take it too much to heart.
So.. take the words in stride and focus on providing a compassionate, listening ear and address their concerns in a professional way. Always keep in mind that you are trying to preserve relationships.
- These situations and people aren’t your main priority.
At the end of the day, your job may be tiring and you have to deal with cranky people… but is this job what you’re living for? Everyone is different, but I would hope you have a much more rich and fulfilling home life outside of work. You work to live.
Your work should be arranged so that you can leave behind the irritating task of dealing with unhappy customers and deal with it tomorrow. Don’t borrow someone else’s angst. Understand that someone’s dissatisfaction with a product or service only lasts till 5pm, and you can move right along.
- Winning the “Miss Congeniality” award isn’t required.
Do you actually like everyone you meet? Be honest now. Of course not! In daily life, we don’t have to deal with people who don’t like us much because we tend to just steer clear. For business owners, however, while your main priority isn’t to be liked by everyone, you are still reaching out to all sorts of people and asking them for business and seeking personal recommendations and public reviews to encourage others.
At the end of the day, performing excellent services and providing quality products often overrides unappealing personality traits. As long as the customer is satisfied with what they received, your personal appeal is irrelevant which is why you must develop a thick skin for ultimate success.
- Consider the other person’s mental state.
“Hurt people hurt others.” Now, I’m not saying every negative comes as a result of peoples’ personal baggage, rather if someone lashes out severely, is berating your staff and is verbally abusive, you’ll want to simply take their critiques at face value and dismiss the harshness. Take whatever nuggets of truth you can and address those things… but dismiss the rest and chalk it up to having a bad day (or month!).
- Push away your emotional retorts.
Remembering earlier that harsh reviews aren’t personal, if you allow negative feelings to provoke you to where you’re reacting emotionally your response will likely add fuel rather than diffuse. Taking a step away for a break or a moment of deep breathing to physically calm yourself before responding is the wiser course.
- Don’t give up.
Regardless of peoples’ opinions of you, your business, the quality of your products and services you need to be steadfast in the vision you’ve created. If the feedback is constructive and valid, maybe you should take some time to reassess your processes; but if everything is humming along and you get a vicious attack from nowhere, remember that successful people are rejected all the time and must develop a thick skin. You just have to keep moving forward.
Dealing with negative reactions and comments is part of life. Everyone’s life, not just business owners. Maybe learning to develop a thick skin should be something everyone should learn in order to not crumble easily. Stand firm on your convictions and don’t let a random negative comment derail your life. They won’t even be remembered in a few days if dealt with properly, so develop a thick skin gradually and steadily.