Criticism Stings — Here are Three Steps to Turn It into your Secret Weapon

How to Embrace the Critics and Grow Forward

Kevin Harrington
Aug 20, 2018 · 3 min read

When you’ve pitched products for decades there’s one thing you understand intimately: the fear of rejection. I’ve walked into rooms confident of the sale, and I’ve walked in not knowing what was going to happen next. And that’s even after decades of pitching and millions of dollars in global sales.

The fear of rejection is a universal feeling; it happens to the best of us. Knowing how to manage that feeling can become your greatest asset.

Many people are naturally critical of others, especially when they see you succeeding when they aren’t. It’s even more important to have thick skin when pitching your idea, product, or service to the marketplace.

Remember, what you are selling isn’t going to be for everyone and that’s ok. Your job is to find who it can help and make sure they see the benefits.

So when you are told: “That won’t work!” Rather than getting offended, see this negative reaction as an opportunity to find out what people think is currently blocking the way forward.

Instead listen up and do these three things:

Get Curious to Discover the Reason Behind the Reaction

You might get the chance to pitch to the perfect person and they might immediately start picking holes in your plan. When that happens, your response will be the key to whether their words help or hurt.

So don’t fight them. Don’t try to shut them down. Instead, get curious. Ask them why they think it won’t work.

Be patient, ask lots of questions, and write down the answers.

They will literally hand you the answers you need to improve your product, your pitch, and your path forward. It’s these valuable insights that will draw you to discover the most important elements that you need to get across.

Get Flexible so You Can Plot the Best Way Forward

“Stay committed to your goals but stay flexible in your approach” — Tony Robbins

Be like the palm tree.

Have you ever been on the coast during a tropical storm or hurricane? The winds whip at devastating speeds. Anything outside is is danger of being tossed across town. But I’ve seen palm trees whipped back and forth like blades of grass — expecting them to be torn out of the ground.

But they stay rooted.

They can bend nearly horizontal to the ground and stay firmly planted. They don’t compromise their roots, but are flexible. And so they survive to thrive another season.

If you are confident in your goals then you can be open to change and even critique because every new element either shows you what you’re doing right, or what needs improvement.

Problem Solve So You Bring the Greatest Value to the Most People

A typical startup entrepreneur wants people to love their ideas and hates it when someone points out even minor flaws in their plan.

A more experienced leader realizes that a critical eye is a valuable thing and any shortcomings must be addressed in order to improve the plan. Your curiosity has identified the right weak spots. Now brainstorm how to make those spots your strengths.

Of course you want people to be blown away by your pitch, but you’re also pitching to get feedback and some of your best insights will come from your critics. For anyone who relished the criticism they gave you, it will be that much sweeter when you succeed after addressing their concerns.

Criticism often stings, especially if you take it personally. But if your goal is to bring the best idea, product, or service to the marketplace in a way that has never been done before, expect criticism. You can’t make an omelet without breaking some eggs.

Be willing to get curious, stay flexible, and problem solve along the way and that criticism can become your secret weapon to success.

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Kevin Harrington

Written by

Empowering Entrepreneurs. “Shark Tank” Original, Infomercial Inventor, EO Co-founder, As Seen on TV Pioneer, $5 Billion in Sales, Speaker & Bestselling Author

A network of business & tech podcasts designed to accelerate learning. Selected as “Best of 2018” by Apple.

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