Handling Negative Feedback With Grace

by | Aug 13, 2021 | Biz Growth, Podcast | 0 comments

Ep. 24: Medium for Business with Bingz Huang

by Krista Bauer | The Business By Intuition Podcast

I received my first bit of negative feedback back in March after teaching a live introductory copywriting class for beginners.

In order to get a video recording of the lessons and class materials, I asked all participants to complete the feedback form. I was crushed when I got negative comments from two participants who said I was dull and the class was too basic. What did they expect from an entry-level class?

Although I was initially angered by the feedback as it felt more like a personal attack than constructive criticism,  once I cooled down I could see it for what it was: feedback.

Nobody wants to get negative feedback but when you put yourself out there on a public stage, it’s inevitable. When you reach a wider audience, it’s inevitable. When you market your services to hundreds or thousands of people, criticism comes with the territory.

In this episode, I share: 

  • How I handled negative feedback in my business so it didn’t stop me from teaching again (I really believed I was done). 
  • Tips for seeing criticism through a lens of grace and gratitude to depersonalize it and make it less about you (because it isn’t)
  • My favourite way to rebuild confidence after getting knocked down.

If you have a question or would like to share your top insights from this episode, click here to send me a voice message and I’d be happy to answer or share it in an upcoming episode.

    Check out the links, resources and the full transcript below. 

    If you have a question or would like to share your top insight from this episode, click here to send me a voice message and I’d be happy to answer or share it in an upcoming episode.

    Enjoy the show!


    pin template - handling negative feedback with grace with picture of a woman in a field of flowers looking away from the camera

    Show transcript


    Krista: Hello, and welcome back. I’m so excited to have you here on the podcast for another week.

    So today on the podcast, let’s talk about, how to accept negative feedback with grace and to learn how to take some of it with a grain of salt.  How often,  are you doing really great things in your business, you’re serving your clients, you’re getting great feedback, you’re offering classes or you’re teaching workshops,

    and the majority of the feedback you’re getting from people is really positive feedback. You know, they’re telling you how they’ve helped you and maybe they’re offering some constructive feedback to help you grow and to help you improve the classes because they genuinely want to see you succeed and they want to help you improve because they are your ideal clients.

    They want to make sure that you’re offering things that they need and that they want, and that they are getting the best experience with you as well. And then you get that negative piece of feedback, someone just flings sh*t your way, and they start talking about all of the things that you did wrong.

    How the experience was so terrible and it feels like a personal attack on who you are. So, how do you deal with that? How do you handle that type of criticism that comes your way?

    So that’s what we’re going to talk about in today’s episode, because I have personally experienced this  myself getting a lot of great feedback and then having feedback that’s been given to me on intake forms after people have taken classes with me and some of the feedback has not been so great and it felt like it was a personal attack on who I was , and it kind of crushed me a bit.

    Even though there was just a couple of negative reviews and there were so many positive ones. You know, as human beings, it doesn’t matter. We get all of this positive feedback. All of these people telling us really great things about us and then our brain just focuses on that one piece of negative feedback.

    We hone in on that one negative comment and we can’t let it go. So in today’s episode, I’m hoping to give you some tips and some ways to just think about this in a new way so that when you do get negative feedback, or if you’ve gotten negative feedback in the past and it’s crushed you, or it’s made you feel weary about teaching more live classes or putting something out there because you’ve received negative feedback and you’re taking it personally and thinking that you’re not good enough, right?

    And if you haven’t received it yet, it’s coming. It’s inevitable.  If you’ve got an online business and you’re putting yourself out there in some way, and you’re teaching classes and you’re putting yourself out there in a public platform, you know, criticism is inevitable.

    It’s going to happen at some point, but how can we shake it off so that it doesn’t mess us up for the rest of the day? Or does it mess up the plans that we have for our business so that we don’t get stuck there? You know, I used to look at getting criticism as being like the worst thing that could happen to me in my business.

    The first time I got negative feedback 

    And then it happened, I got my first bit of negative feedback last March, March of 2021, when I was offering some online classes, some free community classes. And, you know, I always thought it was  like the worst thing that could happen and it felt pretty crappy. I’ll be honest. You know, it was a great fear of mine to put myself out there and to get this crushing, you know, feedback saying, this couple of people had said that I was dull and they didn’t learn very much.

    They said that I was a dull presenter, that the content was too basic. And even though I had some useful suggestions from all of the other participants, And I had some amazing feedback from the other participants who had attended saying that they enjoyed the class, that they got a lot out of it. They left me really positive reviews.

    I could not shake the fact that someone had called my class dull and basic. It was soul crushing on so many levels because I had poured so much of my heart and soul into it. I had given a 90-minute free class of my own time that I put together to offer essentially a basic training in copywriting. And then I got this feedback.

    So that’s what we’re going to talk about today, because I know that there’s people out there who fear this too. Maybe holds you back a little bit, or maybe you’ve gotten some feedback like that in the past where someone has said something to you, and it feels more like a personal attack, as opposed to constructive feedback that you can use to help you improve your courses, improve your programs, and to help you grow so that you are offering the best service and programs for your people.

    01. Feel the feelings (and reflect) 

    So here’s the first thing. If you happen to get a bit of negative feedback. Okay. I just want to say it’s okay to be upset about it. Like handling feedback with grace is not about saying, oh, I’m going to say that that’s okay. Or I’m going to pretend like that doesn’t hurt my feelings. You know, it’s okay to just let yourself feel the feelings.

    But what I would add to that is to take some time and reflect and ask yourself, what part is triggering you?  Just acknowledging the piece that’s triggering for you can be very helpful in helping you be able to sort of get past it a lot sooner.  Or maybe there is something there that you can say, well, you know, even though they didn’t deliver that in the kindest way, 

    that feedback could have been delivered in a, in a better way, in a more positive, graceful way. There is some truth to what this person is saying. Perhaps that’s why you’re being triggered or perhaps you’re being triggered. In my case, I felt triggered by the feedback because I had poured so much into this training.

    And of course I never thought that it was perfect. I knew that there was room for improvement, but I’d really given so much of myself into this training and the preparation, putting it together. You know, doing the marketing. And then I got this negative piece of feedback and it felt like, seriously, I just put so much energy and effort into this.

    And you’re telling me that it’s dull and you know, it wasn’t worth your time, essentially. So it felt really triggering because it was a free class that someone had attended. You know, I put a 90-minute class together for people to understand some of the basic concepts of copywriting, so that I had an affordable option for the people in my audience who couldn’t afford to work with me.

    So that for me was the, the most triggering part is that I had done this for free out of, you know, just wanting to help people, you know, and also wanting to deliver this material and to improve the material and see what people were resonating with. But it felt like, okay,  you could have done this in a better way, the way that you did that felt really crappy.

    And I will add that it was a smaller class and there were only two men out of the whole class. And like I said, it was a smaller class. There was only like six, seven people in this class,  including people who had taken the replays and of all of the feedback I got, two of them were men,  and two of the negative feedback that I got were both from these two men and the rest of the feedback we’re from all of the women who had attended the class.

    And they had given amazing feedback saying that they gained so much out of the class telling me what they had learned from the class. And some of them had given some, you know, constructive feedback things that  they might like to see done differently next time. And it was very helpful, but I had these two pieces of feedback from men in the class who just felt like it was more of a personal attack. And in fact, I had one of those men who had filled out the feedback form, contact me the next day, after filling out the feedback form saying he apologized for being so harsh.  

    So I was happy to see that, you know, he had recognized that too. I felt some validation there because it did feel like the criticism that I was getting in the feedback forms was a little  too harsh for what had been delivered.

    So let’s talk about how you can accept negative feedback with grace. Okay.  When this happened to me, when I got this negative feedback, yeah, I felt pretty crushed. I felt hurt. I felt upset. I was pissed off, frankly, about some of the feedback that I had received. And even though they had left some nice things about the course that they had taken with me, a lot of it was just

    really, they just seem like they were rushing through the feedback form and they just wanted to kind of pick on it a little bit, pick it a little part too much. And you know, I was feeling pretty, pretty upset about it, to be honest. And then after some time, you know, as I said, I focused on  where I was feeling triggered, what was triggering me?

    Why was I getting so triggered by the feedback? And, you know, I broke that down a little bit. So that helped kind of ease some of the anger that I was feeling.  And I could just kind of talk my way through it and accept and acknowledge and, and kind of experience the feelings without judging myself. Just accepting that, yeah, this feels like this feels really shitty right now.

    02. Giving Constructive Feedback is a skill

    But here’s the other thing, accepting negative feedback with grace. The first thing that I want to say is that, you know, giving constructive feedback is a skill. Not a lot of people have the skill. I don’t know why we’re not taught to give constructive feedback in a positive way, in a way that is respectful of the person you’re giving feedback in a way that’s respectful of yourself in a way that helps the person actually grow and use that information in a way that they can then

    take action or make changes. But when we’re just picking someone apart by calling them dull and saying the training was basic, what can I really do with that? There’s nothing there that really explains to me like how I could have made it better. What would have made it more engaging for you? And given that this was a basic level training, what were you expecting from the training other than basic concepts?

    So, for me, it was okay, the fact that you said these things, you know, it was, first of all, it’s fine that you said these things, but at least give me something, some context so that I can then actually use this information to make changes in my business. Or I can decide if that’s something that I can actually change, because just because someone gives you feedback.

    And tells you, this is how to make it better, or this is what I would have done differently. Or if you can change this, this will make it more engaging or more interesting, whatever doesn’t mean, you have to take their feedback. So just remembering that giving constructive feedback is a skill. There’s a way that it can be done.

    You know, there’s a way that you can offer feedback. There’s a way that people can offer feedback to you  that is actually helpful, that you can take that information and actually apply it to your business and use it to, to improve your programs, to improve your classes going forward. But here’s the other side of that is you have to be open and willing to accept that feedback.

    So when it does come your way, even when it’s in its, you know, most negative form, someone just seems to attack you. There’s something in there. There’s probably some piece of truth. Like they had experienced that. So for them, that experience is real right of my training being dull or being basic, that experience was real for them.

    So I can think about that and I can think about, well, what can I take from that? Right? And I can say to myself, well, if the training was too basic, you know, maybe I need to be more explicitly clear in my sales copy. Maybe I need to really lay that out. Maybe I need to be more upfront about what you’re going to actually learn in the class.

    Maybe I need to be marketing to a completely different audience, right? And maybe being more clear on the intake forms and trying to understand what people are trying to gain out of the class. And then seeing if I can offer that during the class and seeing what kinds of things people are hoping to learn out of it.

    So there’s a lot of things that I could take away from that. So just trying to step back and remember that some people, they just don’t know how to give feedback. So it may not have been a personal attack. You know, kind of make the assumption that they weren’t trying to hurt your feelings. They weren’t trying to attack you personally.

    They just don’t know how to give feedback in a proper way, or they were too busy, right. Or they, you know, sometimes people forget when you’re online and you have an online business and people take your online classes and they  work with you in a virtual format that face-to-face interaction is gone.

    So people feel more entitled in a sense, or they forget that there’s a human being on the other end, because if you were face-to-face with someone and I asked you and you take it, you had taken my class. And I said, oh, you know, Dave, how did this class go? Like, what did you think? Even if  they weren’t

    enjoying it, they might’ve turned around and said something in a much healthier, more positive, receptive way. “You know, I’d already learned some of these concepts before I thought we were going to learn X, Y, or Z. So for me, it was kind of a repeat of things I had already known.” You know, they probably would’ve delivered it in a way that was much kinder, but when you take away that face-to-face interaction and   you’re teaching in a virtual format and you’re offering programs in a virtual format

    people lose that face-to-face connection. So suddenly they get all kinds of courage to be able to say things in a way that aren’t the kindness.

    03. They may not be your people 

    So here’s the second thing about accepting negative feedback is, and I’ve already said this, but you know, maybe they’re just not your people. You know, if they’re attacking you or they’re showing up to your classes and you’ve always got someone who complains about everything you do, nothing is ever good enough.

    They’re never satisfied. No matter what. Everything they say about you is negative and unhelpful that maybe they’re just not your people. So in those situations,  you can do one of two things. You can take what you feel resonates out of what they’re saying. And you can say, is this piece helpful?

    Can I do something with this? Can I use it as a tool to help me learn? Can I use it as a tool to help me grow and improve?

    Or can I just delete the comment? Can I just ignore it altogether? Because sometimes people are giving you feedback and they’re not your people anyway. Or some people are just never satisfied no matter what. And then you have to be able to discern whether or not you should take that piece of feedback with a grain of salt.

    So if everything in you and your instincts are telling you to take that feedback with a grain of salt, then that’s what you should do. Don’t waste another second on worrying about what these people think about you. If they’re not your people.  Or if they just complain about whatever you put out, they’re not your people, you know, it’s perfectly okay.

    They can go and find someone else who is. Don’t waste your time worrying about them. Focus on the people who are there and who are  learning from what it is that you have to provide, because there are lots of those people too.

    So it’s really important to just kind of focus on the people that you can serve and the people that you know you can help. So here’s the thing with me in that instance where I had those two guys give negative feedback. 90% of my audience is female. Most of my clients are female, not all of them, but most of them are female.

    And I had this experience where two guys, you know, had given me this negative feedback and perhaps I’m just not their cup of tea. Maybe my teaching style is just not their cup of tea and that’s okay. You know, they happened to find me online.  They had engaged with me in more of a personal format, you know, me teaching a live class, and then they realized that maybe I’m just not for them. And that’s perfectly fine.

    04. Focus more on the positive feedback

    So the next one is just try to focus because on the ratio of positive to negative feedback, because how often do we get tons of great feedback? You know, we get tons and tons of great feedback and then we get that one negative piece of feedback and we can’t move on from it. Like we just can’t shake it.

    It crushes us on such a deep level. And then we start questioning whether or not we should be doing this. We start questioning everything we do. We start questioning whether we’re good enough, we start questioning our own value. So try to focus on the people who have given you really positive feedback, focused on their feedback. And, you know, if you’re getting all negative feedback, then obviously there’s something there. Right? If everyone is complaining about something that you’ve done or  if there’s enough people who are complaining about the same things, then I definitely think you should listen. You know, there’s something there to be 

    looked at. And I think we can say that about all negative feedback, even when you get something that it feels hard to take, or it feels like a personal attack or you’re having a hard time really seeing  what they’re experiencing and how they’re perceiving you. I still think it’s really important to be able to look at that feedback and to take something away from it.

    Right? And even if that’s just recognizing that maybe  you haven’t marketed to the right people. That’s okay too. But taking something out of it and using that as a learning experience and trying to figure out how that changes your business or it doesn’t. So if you’re just focusing on all the negative feedback that comes your way, if it’s a lot, you need to pay attention.

    But if you have mostly positive feedback and you keep getting, you know, there’s always a few negative ones, try to focus more on the positive ones, the ones that brought you that constructive criticism and gave you a lot of great feedback as well, because chances are  those are more your people.

    Those are the people  that resonate with what you have to say. And I will say this last and final thing, and it’s not so much about accepting negative feedback  with grace, it’s more about just keeping your spirits up and having like a way to build your confidence when you do get knocked down.

    Because there will be times when people say something that isn’t so great. It might even come from someone that you respect or someone that you admire and your confidence gets a little shaken, right? Because when we get that negative feedback that can happen and like it can shake our confidence a little.

    And so what I do is I have  a feel-good folder that I save in Gmail. I have one on my desktop too, but mostly it comes through email. These are not testimonials from people, but I will often get,  you know, if I send out an email to my newsletter list, I will often get replies to my emails saying, “wow, that really  helped me today.”

    Or “I so resonate with what you just had to say.”. Or, you know, “this is why I like following you because you know of X, Y, or Z.” And I get a lot of those emails. Like every time I send out a newsletter, I get those emails. So I keep all of those in a file folder, so that I can reflect back and  I need to feel a little bit better or I’ve lost my confidence, or sometimes I just want to look in there and just remember that, [00:19:00] you know, I’ve got something here that people resonate with.

    So my question for you is if you’re getting negative feedback, how can you learn from it? How can you change? How can you implement the changes in your business or do you need to worry about it and make any changes at all?


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