The Value of Feedback and Criticism

Posted by Todd Smith

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I have made it a priority throughout my 29-year career to seek feedback from people who can help me improve on a personal and professional level. By being open to constructive criticism and people’s suggestions, I have learned a great deal.

My Experience as a Realtor

I recall a particularly helpful although humbling experience when I was a realtor in the Chicago area. After an elderly couple chose another realtor to sell their home, I called them to ask for their reason. I did this as a matter of course when people declined my services. Their feedback enlightened me. They said, “Todd, you were very professional. You had an impressive presentation and offered lots of unique services, but you did not take the time to listen to us or to show that you cared about us.”

I realized that while I offered a long list of great services, I failed at one of the basic principles of doing business: you must first build a relationship with someone before they will trust you enough to buy your product or service.

From that day forward, I never failed to gain the trust and respect of an elderly home-seller—my closing rate for elderly sellers was 100%. This is just one of the many lessons I learned by calling prospective clients who chose someone instead of me.

Seek the Advice of Experts in Your Field

Another means to obtain reliable opinions and suggestions is to seek the advice of experts in your field. I have always made this a part of my action plan in starting a new business or strategy.

In preparing to launch my blog, I learned a lot of the “little things” about how to set up and run a blog from the experts in the field. When my blog went live, I wanted to get feedback from Gary Vaynerchuk, the most recognized social media expert in the country.

As you can see from the image at the top of the post, I sat down with Gary and went through my blog with him, page by page, to determine what refinements I could make. We took it a step further and he reviewed all of my recent posts on the Little Things Matter Facebook fan page. I was receptive to any and all pearls of wisdom he could share. It was a great experience.

If one person complains, there are 100 others who feel the same way

Based on a lifetime of experiences, one of my personal beliefs is that when someone complains about something, there are 100 other people who feel the same way, but for whatever reason don’t say anything. Think about yourself…what percentage of the time do you complain or give criticism when someone has turned you off or when a business has failed to meet your expectations?

To illustrate this point, on March 3rd over a period of 15 hours, the post 10 Ways to be a Better Listener was accidentally sent three times to my newsletter subscribers. Needless to say I was upset and embarrassed because that error was a reflection on my brand. What was interesting was only one person out of every 200 subscribers said something and each of these were family members.

One of the HUGE mistakes people make when they hear feedback and criticism is they think to themselves: if only one person complained, then only one person had a bad experience. Even if it were true that only one person had a negative impression or encounter, why should you discount the feedback? If it can make you a better person or make your company better, who cares if you heard it from one person or 101 people?

Learn From Everyone Including Those Whose Feedback is Harsh

Have you ever heard people say, don’t listen to those who are overly critical or negative because you can’t make everyone happy? I agree with the principle that you can’t make everyone happy, but I also think that you should still listen to the feedback, despite the manner in which it was given.

Could it be this one person just didn’t have the personal communication skills to give their feedback with love and grace? Even if you believe their intent is to hurt you, so what? If you can grow and learn from the experience, accept it and move on.

Look For Subtle Signs of Feedback

Not only have I learned from the direct feedback I have been given but I have also learned a lot by picking up on the little things people say and do. Quite often, people won’t give you direct feedback because their inclination is to avoid a confrontation but if you listen carefully you can pick up on their true feelings by the things they say and do.

Please Give Me Your Feedback

I want each of you to know that I would really value your feedback, today, tomorrow or in the future. If you ever have any ideas or suggestions about how I can improve this blog, please tell me. I want to know because more than likely there are 100 other people who feel the same way. And if you have suggestions about how I can grow as a person, I am open to that as well.

Start to look at feedback and criticism differently. Rather than trying to run from it, seek it out; be hungry for it; because only then can you really refine what you are doing and improve. If you show your appreciation to those who take the time to offer feedback, people will become even more comfortable in helping you develop personally and professionally.

Remember, what may be logical to you may not be logical to others!

About the Author:

Todd Smith is a successful entrepreneur of 34 years and founder of Little Things Matter. To receive Todd’s lessons, subscribe here. All Todd’s lessons are also available on iTunes as downloadable podcasts.

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