Sunday, February 27, 2011

Crushing Criticism vs. Friendly Feedback

Let's say you've just finished writing your novel, a lifelong dream finally realized. Just in case you misspelled a word somewhere, maybe asking a friend to proofread it might be valuable.

Your friend returns scathing criticism. The plot is weak, the grammar is unreadable. The whole concept is completely flawed.

  Is your friend reflecting jealousy?
  Trying to protect you from disappointment, thereby holding you back?
  Offering needed feedback?
  Creating an excessively difficult avenue to improvement?
  Mirroring disappointment from his own childhood?

You don't really know. How do you discern the difference between needed feedback and criticism that might hold you back?

The answer is the same for a situation where you seek feedback about a business idea or business plan. Many of the truly game-changing businesses of the past several decades were mocked by friends and experts, but the entrepreneur's perseverance overcomes, and the world is bettered. But some people, inspired by those stories, ignore warnings and make really, really, bad mistakes.

One option is to ask advice of many people. When choosing subjects to interview, expand the sample size.

Another important strategy is to analyze yourself. 

  Are you an overly sensitive person? 
  Do you tend to be too stubborn? 
  Are you a poor listener? 
  Are you less skilled at discerning people's motives?

Entrepreneur, know thyself.

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