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Criticism – How to react to it ?

la critique

We must be honest enough to recognize that this new entrepreneurial identity is not obvious. Very often you will encounter a first obstacle : Criticism.

You don’t have the chance to test your idea and validate your project, you probably know what I’m talking about !

Other people’s opinions !

You will often face criticism as soon as you talk about your project that is a little large and ambitious. Whether it’s for :

  • Take a trip around the world.
  • Wanting to get rich.
  • Become a champion in a sport.
  • Live from your passion.
  • A reconversion project.
  • To embark on some kind of innovative project.
  • etc…

You’ll probably be under fire. They are rarely constructive and thoughtful. This will happen all the more if you deviate from the norm of those who are likely to criticize you.

On the other hand, this warning may awaken your ego accompanied by misplaced pride. Once you are locked in your ivory tower, constructive criticism can all turn into non-constructive criticism.

The whole problem lies in one question, if not two :

  • Is the critique viable ?
  • To be more specific, is criticism based on concrete external evidence rather than mere opinion ?

The Criticism in the trash ?

You are likely to feel a strong negative emotion in the person you are talking to whenever criticism is expressed against you. It is likely that, when the person you are speaking to reacts in this way, you will send them back to you :

  • Or exasperation.
  • Or disdain.
  • Or arrogance.
  • Or anger.

You will be confronted with the unconscious exasperation of an inner frustration or failure in your interlocutor. He will be unlikely to be objective in his diatribe about your project.

You can evaluate the criticism by asking yourself the following questions :

  • Is criticism constructive or not ?
  • Can it help you progress towards the accomplishment of your project ?

If the criticism is not constructive, you have two options :

  • You flush it out “by flushing the toilet“.
  • You question your interlocutor so that he develops his thought.

Otherwise criticism is constructive and deserves to be taken into account and deepened.

For non-constructive criticism, it required an extremely short period of reflection from your interlocutor and does not allow you to think about your project from another angle.

The following sentences fall under this angle :

  • You’re gonna screw up !
  • It’s not for you !
  • No one’s going to care !
  • This is bad !
  • No one’s gonna be interested in this thing !
  • and so on…

Be aware that even if experts in their field cannot predict with certainty whether or not your project can succeed, then no one can. Unpredictability is an integral part of successful business development. So no one, let alone your loved ones, can understand and predict how other people will react after your project is launched.

Learn how to filter out the critical issues to make your decision

It is your responsibility to distinguish between constructive criticism and non-constructive criticism. Those that bring you something and not those that have no other purpose than to make you feel guilty.

A person presenting his or her project in the face of criticism

The most neutral criticism is the one that will be best heard. It is particularly important when you are presenting your project for the first time.

Here are the conditions for constructive criticism :

  • It makes you think.
  • She’s non-aggressive.

To assess whether a criticism is constructive, you can start by trying to challenge the peremptory assertions of your interviewer. Ask questions such as these :

  • Where do you get your information from ?
  • Have you checked it ?
  • etc…

Thanks to this type of questions you will be able to find out whether or not the person you are talking to provides you with a wealth of information. All your questions can sometimes have the merit of making your interlocutor aware of the superficiality of his or her knowledge on the subject.

Here are the 3 filters that a review must pass :

  • Is it neutral ?
  • Is it constructive ?
  • Is it viable ?

If the review validates these 3 filters, then you can ask yourself the following questions and answer them :

  • Does it deal with elements that I can influence and have an impact on the viability of my project ?
  • Does it deal with elements over which I have an influence and does not affect the viability of my project ?
  • Does it involve elements over which I have no influence and has an influence on the viability of my project ?
  • Does it deal with elements over which I have no influence and does not affect the viability of my project ?
Criticism ?relates to matters over which I have an influencerelates to matters over which I do not have influence
has an influence on the viability of my projectCase 2Case 1
has no influence on the viability of my project.Case 3Case 4

Case 1 – Examples :

  • There is too much competition in this sector !
  • The crisis has led to a loss of purchasing power and you’ll have a hard time selling your products !

If the criticisms are well-founded and viable, then you can seriously consider them. Consider looking at the things you can influence to try to “reverse” negative effects that you cannot control.

Case 2 – Examples :

  • This area is completely saturated. You’d better find another one !
  • These products can only be bought in the summer, your launch date is not appropriate !

Check that such criticism is based on verifiable and concrete evidence rather than assumptions or hypotheses. If it proves to be relevant, then it can save you time and avoid a big mistake that may have led you straight to failure.

Case 3 – Examples :

  • Your communication strategy is not the best, you must change it even if it works !
  • You are not expensive enough to achieve maximum profitability !

It is up to you whether or not to implement corrective actions. There is always a better way to do it than another. There is always something to say about everything! You can sweep away some of these criticisms because you have to be an essentialist. That is to say, you have to learn how to do and focus on what is most important at a given moment in time.

Entrepreneurship is not about eliminating all problems, it’s about choosing your problems rather than having them imposed on you

Case 4 – Examples :

  • You don’t have the stature or the credentials to pull it off !
  • No one will be able to understand you in your Parisian clientele because of your Southern accent !

In that case you can simply forget about all the criticism.

In the end you’re the only master on board. You are the only judge of the viability of your project. Know how to keep a good listening ear and decide by yourself !

To go further…

Olivier Roland In : Tout le monde n’a pas eu la chance de rater ses études [Online] Paper book format available in French on : < >

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