Dealing with criticism is an unfortunate part of life and business. Perhaps it’s a harsh email out of the blue from a particularly demanding client, a nasty comment on social media, or even a barb inadvertently dropped in a conversation with someone close to you. When you pour yourself into your business, even the smallest bit of criticism can feel like a personal attack, and leave you doubting yourself and your future. Wedding pros, who as a group are prone to perfectionism, don’t tend to handle criticism well, and the fear of criticism can hold you back from playing big. So how can we be less emotional when dealing with feedback that we might not want to hear?

LISTEN

Sometimes we focus on the criticism, and fail to hear the praise or valuable feedback in what someone says. We all have professional blind spots, and getting an external perspective can actually be extremely valuable, but you have to be willing to listen. Take a deep breath and keep an open mind. What are they really saying?

TAKE THE OPPORTUNITY TO LEARN

As Tony Robbins says: “There is no such thing as failure, there are only results.” Perhaps the results aren’t what you were hoping for this time (or perhaps not yet), but take it as a semicolon rather than a full stop. What could you do better next time? Every mistake is an opportunity to learn, so take it on board and keep going.

DON’T MAKE EXCUSES OR JUSTIFY YOUR DECISIONS

You don’t owe anyone an explanation for how you choose to run your business. Take ownership of your choices. They’re entitled to their opinion, but ultimately, you’re the one who is driving the train.

DON’T TAKE IT PERSONALLY

It’s worth assuming that people are coming from a good place and trying to help you constructively. But even so, it can feel very personal. You may have put your heart and soul into your business, but your business is not you. Learning to separate the two will help you to be more rational when accepting criticism. This is one I struggle with the most, but creating some distance from your work will help you grow.

DON’T BE YOUR OWN WORST CRITIC

It’s easy to internalise criticism and beat yourself up for every misstep. This is especially true if you’re already struggling with anxiety or lack of confidence. Focus on the positive and don’t obsess about the negative. It helps to talk, so seek out advice from those who have been there and can build you up.

NEVER APOLOGISE FOR BEING YOU

Not everyone will appreciate what you have to bring to the table, but that’s their issue, not yours. Your tribe will get it. The haters’ gonna hate (hate hate hate hate). Make like Tay-Swift and shake it off.

ACKNOWLEDGE FEEDBACK – AND SAY THANK YOU

The last thing you should do when you receive criticism is to lash out in anger, or respond with an attack of your own. Simply acknowledge it as feedback, smile, and say thank you.

RISE ABOVE IT

A final tip that’s helped me to stay calm in the face of criticism is practising mindfulness. My favourite resources are the Calm app, and the book ‘How to be Mindful’ by Anna Barnes.

How do you deal with criticism as a small business owner? Share your tips in the comments!

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Top image: Helen Warner Photography