Image by John Hain from Pixabay

Image by John Hain from Pixabay

Criticism. It will hit many of us like a bolt of lightning. Making a stop in our tracks and think about what we’re doing.

Early in your business journey criticism can really make you think. It did for me many times. And the truth is every time you uplevel you’ll get more and more criticism. It is going to be part of your business. If you keep growing expect an increase in frequency and quantity.

I must admit the first several times I got criticized it made me really stop and think, and even sometimes change direction. Over time from my experience, and the experience of other business owners I’ve advised, I learned the ins and outs of how to deal with criticism.

Criticism sometimes makes me pause. So I wrote this guide for us on how to deal with criticism. It should help us be more logical in dealing with the emotional, and business, side of being criticized.

Here’s my working guide for how I deal with criticism.

1) Celebrate!

The first step in dealing with criticism is to stop and celebrate. This may sound strange but we need to put a positive spin on criticism. We should actually celebrate the fact that people are taking the time and energy to criticize us. This means they’re paying attention to us and they want us to increase the quality of our offering or they are jealous.

In other words, they are engaged. They care about us and they care about our future. So this is a good thing. Even if they aren’t engaging with us directly and they’re just trying to tear us down publicly we know that they care. They’re not indifferent. They see a reason to give time and attention to us, our brand and what we’re building.

So we start by being thankful that we got the criticism and that we’re getting on people’s radar. We’re doing something right.

From there that allows us to have the right mindset about how the deal with the criticism in the upcoming steps.

2) Don’t Go Off Course

Next, after receiving the criticism, we don’t want to change our course. Hopefully we have business processes procedures and ways of doing things that will continue despite the criticism. And we want those to continue just as they had been working before the criticism. Don’t stop working, calling clients or doing any of your normal business processes.

Many will make a mistake at this juncture and have a knee-jerk reaction to change something immediately based on the criticism. This is what we need to avoid doing. While we work through the process for the criticism business continue as usual. Nothing changes just because a critic arrived at your door.

3) Consider the Source

Now let’s start the process of really pausing and thinking about the criticism. Criticism can be your friend. There’s no doubt that many people have listened to criticism or reviews and made better products and services from that feedback.

But the key is to start to cool reflection process and work through the steps.

I want you stop and consider the source of the feedback. Where is the criticism coming from? Why is a criticism being sent to you?

Think about the motives and incentives that come with the source of the criticism. Might they have jealousy? Might they have a reason to harm your success? Or they unbiased and friendly? How deep is your relationship?

The cold truth is that some criticism is more objective than others. I believe there are people out there that genuinely have your best interest at heart. There are also people who are jealous or want to harm others or impede their success. Some people want everyone to struggle – like they do. You understand what camp your source is in.

Beyond the motives and intentions of the source you also want to think about the quality of the source. Quite simply some sources are better than others. Some sources understand your business, your situation and are very well aligned to give you input. Other critics and sources are not quality. Perhaps they haven’t had the success or don’t have the proper perspective to give you good input.

What is the overall value of this criticism?

4) Listen

Now that we’ve stopped and thought about the source and quality of the criticism we can actually listen to it. Do we think the criticism is coming from an unbiased knowledgeable source or do we think it’s coming from a biased unqualified source? Or somewhere in between?

Which camp your source is in is really going to affect the way you utilize the input. If it’s a good source with no reason to harm you up then we’re going to listen to the criticism very carefully. If it’s a biased source that doesn’t have the qualifications to really be giving you the type of input they’re giving that obviously we give less weight to it.

But regardless of which source the criticisms coming from we need to pause, think about the criticism, and see how it impacts us and our business plans.

Does it resonate with you? Does the criticism make sense? Is it worth following up on?

These are fundamental questions that will determine what we’re going to do later with the criticism. But now we’re starting to internalize it and consider what we’ll do with the information.

5) Understand Your “Core”

The next key in understanding criticism is to understand yourself. And your “core.” Your core is the value added or uniqueness to your business that adds value to you and your customers.

Sometimes criticism comes from people who are not your target audience. Quite simply we can’t be all things to all people. And you may be doing a great job of servicing your target audience or customer and the critic wants you to change to service a different type of customer. Perhaps you just have a different perspective.

So think about your business and why you exist and who you service. That core will help us determine whether there’s positive change that can be made to our business and processes based on the criticism or if it will take us off course.

6) Consider Change

Now that we have thought about the source, the criticism and our core business we can determine whether it is worth making a change. In some cases criticism can be very helpful and can change the course of our business for the better.

In some cases will find that the criticism was not worth while or that making an accommodation to improve or change for the criticism would actually harm our core customers and beliefs.

Let’s figure out which way the criticism will take us and adjust accordingly.

7) Keep Moving

And regardless of how much, if any, change we make based on the criticism we need to keep moving forward. Many businesses get caught up on criticism and revisions based on criticism and stop their momentum and processes of moving forward. That’s a fundamental mistake.

We need to address criticism. In some cases we should make changes based on the criticism. But regardless we need to keep our business moving forward with momentum.


Criticism is hard. And for many businesses it will be a big setback or challenge to deal with criticism. We need to stop and pause and reflect when criticism comes.

If you follow the steps in this article will be better prepared to deal with criticism and it will give you a system so that criticism doesn’t unduly impact your business. It will also help you make better decisions on what to do with your business in light of such criticism.

Nobody looks forward to having critics. But it’s actually time to celebrate. You have people that care about your business, for one reason or another, and you have the possibility to grow and become better for it.


By: The Our Shawn McBride who is constantly studying the Future of Business as the host of The Future Done Right(TM) Show. If you want regular content on the future of business subscribe to get new blog posts from us here.

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