As a business owner, do you know how to find success in negative moments? Believe it or not, it is possible. In my past life as a 1st VP of Mortgage Servicing for The Dime Savings Bank of NY, I learned how true this is.
Back then, it was my responsibility to complete annual reviews for all my staff. Often this meant delivering compliments, constructive criticism and negative comments to my employees. Thankfully, a required continuing education class on best practices for writing reviews taught me a lot about how to deal with negativity.
Using this information, I developed a formula for myself. I found it very helpful. And I still use it today in my business communications and coaching! Like me, I know you juggle multiple responsibilities on any given day in your business. And negative moments can throw your best-laid plans off-kilter.
Choosing a Hat
To assist with all your tasks, you typically have a myriad of proverbial hats hanging on the rack. I know I do! And each serves a specific purpose.
For example, when engaged in the behind-the-scenes tasks of running your business, you wear the operations hat. When you’re focused on growing your business, the sales and marketing cap comes in handy. But which hat do you choose when facing an unfavorable situation?
It could be something you’re dealing with privately, such as an unresponsive vendor or uncooperative client. Or, with the strong online presence in today’s business world, publicly receiving a less than flattering review is almost inevitable. So how do you handle these situations?
Response vs. Reaction
When facing a negative moment, I know your first instinct (as a human being) might be to grab your cap of injustice and begin a counterattack. I do recommend that you deal with less-than-favorable situations head-on. However, reacting with anger or engaging in a heated, public debate is not advisable. This type of behavior comes from an ego-based mindset. And it and has no place in your business model.
A better choice is to adjust your perspective and transition into a growth mindset. Throw on your public relations hat. Gather your thoughts and mindfully craft a well-thought-out response. While you should not apologize for anything you did not do, I suggest you consider the potential long-term effects of your response.
How will this impact your long-term goals? Could it compromise the health and prosperity of your business? Will it harm your brand? When operating within a growth mindset, your desired outcome will be a positive reflection on your business.
Positive, Positive, Negative, Positive
In general, your response should flow according to the following “Positive, Positive, Negative, Positive” pattern:
- Positive: A pleasant greeting and remark
- Positive: An upbeat, factual account of what took place
- Negative: A straightforward (and polite) correction of any inaccuracies
- Positive: A positive wish for the best
By using this pattern to respond, you have multiple opportunities to achieve business success. Remember that milestones of success don’t always come in big packages with fancy bows. Sometimes they come in the form of small victories. And in the end, they add up to a giant win.
For example, your demeanor will speak volumes about your pleasant nature. Your accounting of the facts with a polite rectification of the details will allow you to exhibit your professionalism. And potential and existing clients will see beyond the negative.
They witness the tone and attitude you take in responding. They note the timeliness of your response. And they recognize the moral character that you and your business possess. What a great way to create positive momentum and growth!
Always Take the High Road
Don’t ever give away your power or tarnish your brand for a momentary release or feeling of victory. It will negatively impact your business, period. When penning your response, you should always take the high road.
Keep the Golden Rule in the forefront of your mind. It doesn’t say to treat others the way they have treated you (although I know that can be tempting!). Instead, it tells you to treat others the way you want to be treated. It is a great opportunity to illustrate the business principles on which you formed your business.
The great news is you get to walk away from the situation with your integrity completely intact. You earn the respect of onlookers who get a glimpse of your high standards and ethical work practices. Another victory in achieving success for your business!
You Don’t Say
Never resort to name-calling, sarcasm, or passive-aggressive comments. Rather than making the recipient look bad, these tactics only serve to define you in a negative light. Long after people forget the original complaint or review, they will remember the contempt in your response.
Present your case like the professional that you are. Don’t allow yourself to drift into defense mode. That will only make others wonder if you have something to defend. Simply provide a factual account of what took place, including any miscommunication or misunderstandings.
Don’t express your opinion on the matter – it wasn’t requested. Regardless of how the situation makes you feel, it is a complaint or bad review of the business, not you personally. By simply keeping your feelings in check and responding in a non-inflammatory way, you have achieved success for your business.
I teach my clients to use negative feedback as a learning moment. After all, none of us are perfect, and a non-glowing review is a great opportunity to recognize areas for potential improvement.
By adjusting your processes, your sales pitch, your method of communication, or your servicing, you are growing and improving. And you know what that means. You get to add another notch to your belt of success!
If you are one of the lucky few who have not yet experienced a situation like this, I recommend you keep these tips handy. You never know when you might find them useful!
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