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How to Deal With Other People's Feedback and Opinions in Business

starting a soap business
woman yelling into megaphone

One of the hardest things to do when you start putting you and your business out there is to handle reviews, feedback, opinions from other people without gallons of wine or a few tears. Scratch that. It's hard to even put yourself out there in the first place because of the weight you might put on those opinions.

The fact of the matter is that getting feedback from other people on your business, products, and practices can be a gold mine of business building tools - if you know how to handle it properly and learn from it.

 How to Deal With Other People's Feedback and Opinions in Business

Don't take other people's feedback and opinions personally.

Whether you ask for the feedback or you get it without request, you have to learn to separate your personal feelings from business when it comes to feedback. One of the biggest struggles I had when I first started Modern Soapmaking was putting myself as the face of a brand, and handling the opinions that would come from that.

I have had people make commentary about my appearance, my writing style, my word choice, and even my lifestyle choices. While those aren't opinions about my business, they come about because of my business. I've had to learn that while negative opinions that have nothing to do with my actual work stick out like a sore thumb, they aren't really about me and they are such a small fraction of the feedback I do receive. And when the feedback IS about my work or business, I get to take what I need from it, and move the hell on because it's not worth letting it get under my skin.

It's rare that what anyone else does or says is because of you, even if it seems like it is. What someone else says or does is a projection of their own reality, whether that's their personal experiences or their hopes and dreams. When someone speaks from their place of perception, you get to choose what to take and what to leave on the table. When you stop taking anyone else's words at face value, and start to filter what you do and don't need, you start to become immune to having your feelings hurt by something that wasn't even about you in the first place.

Consider the source of the feedback or opinion.

In my Facebook group (and in lots of other discussion forums for soapmaking), I see people ask for feedback about their soap company often. It's unfortunate when they take the feedback at face value without considering the source and if it will provide value. The questions and requests for feedback I'm referring to are things like:

  • I'm making X product, and am thinking I'll charge X price. What do you charge?
  • I want to add new scents to my line, what are your bestsellers?
  • I'm working on my product photos, what do you think?

When a soapmaker asks another soapmaker these kinds of questions, they're leaving out a very important factor: their businesses are not really the same. What Susie Soapmaker's customers pay for a product, what scents they like, or what product photos appeal to them, aren't (and shouldn't be) the same as what your customers will pay, like, or be draw to. And what Susie Soapmaker says about your soap's price, scent, or appearance shouldn't matter as much because she isn't your target market anyways.

Without considering if the source is a valuable feedback mechanism with the proper context, you may find yourself taking the wrong pieces of feedback to apply to your biz. If the source of the feedback is not your target market or does not have the contextual understanding of your specific target market, the opinion isn't going to be relevant or provide proper direction for you.

Treat the person dishing it out with a little R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

Regardless of where the feedback or opinion comes from, or whether or not you find it valuable, always remember to treat the person behind the feedback or opinion with respect. It's not easy to get people to speak up with their honest critique, and if you want folks to keep piping in, you absolutely must show them respect and appreciation for doing so.

For instance, I love patchouli essential oil, and plenty of folks hate it. Neither myself nor those (blasphemous) patchouli haters are right or wrong. That's the beauty of opinions. Just because someone doesn't like the beautiful fragrance of patchouli doesn't mean their opinion is any less valid or honest for them.

Always show appreciation for an opinion, and show respect towards the person giving it.

Pile on a few (huge) grains of salt, and take what you can.

You don't have to take anything at face value, and you are the only one who controls how you take in someone else's opinion. Skepticism is healthy (at least in my opinion, ha!)

There isn't anything wrong with always piling on a grain of salt or two when someone gives you a piece of feedback. Give yourself distance from the feedback, see what you can gain from it, and leave the rest of it on the table with those loose grains of salt.

Keep moving forward, and follow your path.

It's been said that it takes about five positive events to make up for one negative event, so pile on the positive and focus on getting going in your own direction. If you let someone else's opinion or feedback distract you, you're building your own roadblocks.

In the end, trust your gut instinct. You know what works or doesn't work for you, you know your business better than anyone else. Don't let someone else's opinions cause you to doubt yourself. It doesn't matter what you do, you can't please everyone anyways!

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