“Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.” ~ Winston Churchill
Even at its best, when presented with tact and grace, criticism can be hard to take. When phrased as a complaint, criticism can be even tougher to endure. There is no doubt we have fostered a culture of complaint in our economic, political, and social system. We have even trained people to complain as a way of getting windfalls in free services and goods. Complain loudly enough and you get your way, we seem to be saying.
You need a response to criticism, one that demonstrates your company’s no-nonsense ethic. Here is what I suggest. The next time you are criticized, say this:
We sometimes treat criticism as though it is more than feedback. In reality, criticism is just that, no more and no less. True, some excel at presenting their criticism in a less than kind, less than articulate or civil manner. What we don’t want to do, however, is to confuse the message with the messenger.
Criticism is an opportunity to evaluate how well we are performing in the context of our travel practice. Feedback gives us the opportunity to correct and hone our business practices and to improve our performance. You can only do so if you are willing to react by trying to find some value in the other’s point of view. If our reaction is to immediately defend ourselves or to be angry or deny, we run the risk of missing a real opportunity for improvement.
We can choose our response to criticism. We can attempt to find value in any reaction to our services. You don’t have to roll over and accept criticism. It is enough if you fairly evaluate it. Regardless of your decision, you have listened for the opportunity to improve.
Consider the alternatives. If we fail to properly address criticisms, people will begin to avoid our services, often without letting us know why. The worst possible feedback is silence. The truth is, criticism is often a disguised request to be more prompt, more careful, or more empathetic. When we can see through the criticism to the request, we stand a better chance of not taking matters personally and moving through any conflict to an immediate resolution.
When someone is critical of the experience of dealing with your travel practice, they are requesting a hearing. Your presence in the marketplace indicates your willingness to listen. Providing the opportunity for both positive and negative feedback allows your clients to enjoy a full participation in their relationship with your business.