No matter how much work you put into something or what your intentions might have been, at some point in time, you’re bound to receive some negative feedback. Maybe it’s in regards to an event you hosted. Or something you posted on social media. Or even an email you sent out.
Whatever it stems from, it’s likely to sting a little.
So what’s the best way to handle that negative feedback? Below are a few tips:
Address and respond to the feedback
Whether you disagree with the feedback or not, it’s important to acknowledge it and respond to the person who provided it. Now what you say in that response all depends on the context of the criticism.
Was someone disappointed with the speaker at your event? Let them know that you’re very sorry to hear that, but you appreciate the feedback; you’re always trying to find new and different speakers to cover as much ground (topic-wise) for your members as possible, and you’ll share that feedback with your team so that you can continue to improve your speaker line-up(s).
Or let’s say you received an email from a prospect who’s unhappy you emailed them in the first place. Again, apologize, let them know that you were simply trying to extend value their way, but that you’ll remove them from your email list so they won’t receive any communications from your organization moving forward. (Just be sure to then actually remove them from your email list.)
Sometimes, people just want to be heard. And sometimes, people aren’t even expecting a response, so receiving one can be just as impactful as what the response actually is.
Try to detach emotionally
When you’ve done your best at something and your intentions were truly good, receiving negative feedback, particularly when that feedback is worded in a mean way, can downright hurt. While it’s important to acknowledge that feedback, it’s also important not to take it too personally. (Otherwise, you might get in a funk that’s a bit hard to get out of.)
After receiving negative feedback, first (depending on how that feedback was delivered), take a few moments to digest what was said and let those initial emotional responses settle. (You never want to reply mad!) And in those moments, remind yourself: This person may be having a bad day or wrote that thinking no one would actually see it and/or respond. And if you were face-to-face with that person, chances are, they would’ve delivered that message in a different tone/manner.
If you put your heart into something, it’s hard not to take it personally. But do your best to detach emotionally - at least somewhat - and try to think rationally about the situation. (It’s something we all go through, so you’re certainly not alone!)
Correct the situation (if possible/necessary)
Again, this depends a bit on what the negative feedback you received was in response to, but if it’s something you can fix - either in the present or moving forward - definitely do so. That event speaker example we mentioned: Once the event is over, there’s not much you can do. But if you say you’ll factor that feedback into future speaker selections (and then actually do so), that’s a start.
Or going back to that email example we gave (where the prospect wasn’t happy you emailed them in the first place): Again, let them know you’ll remove them from your email list, so they won’t receive any more communications from your organization moving forward.
Aside from apologizing and correcting the situation (if possible), there’s not much else you can do. Hopefully the member/prospect will understand that, and it’s important that you understand that too.
Take a few moments to reflect
Once the situation has been handled - you’ve responded to the contact and it’s essentially “over” - take some time to reflect on the incident. Was there anything you could’ve done to prevent that type of feedback? What can you do moving forward to ensure that doesn’t happen again?
Feedback, good or bad, is always an opportunity to learn, so commit to finding the lesson and moving forward - even better than before!
Receiving and responding to feedback - the good, the bad, and the ugly - is all part of the membership management world. For more membership management best practices, particularly in terms of membership recruitment, engagement, and retention, check out our free guide below!