By Kenny Markwardt, Certified Two-Brain Fitness Business Mentor
“You’re a slave to the almighty dollar and I can’t wait until someone else opens up a gym and puts you out of business.”
“Every single person in this gym is mad at you and upset at what this gym has become. They just don’t tell you.”
“You’ve watered this place down so much that you’re betraying everything I thought you stood for.”
This is just a random sampling of some of the things that have been said to me over the years. Of course, these comments are offset by thousands of others about how we save lives and provide one of the best communities and experiences in our town.
But as Joe Rogan so eloquently puts it, “If I make you an incredible sandwich that is 1 percent dog poop, it’s going to be really hard to enjoy the other 99 percent of that sandwich.”
If you own a gym, similar things have no doubt been said to you—or you’re going to hear them at some point. It’s almost unavoidable.
While it’s hard to brush this stuff off, you’re going to need to get over it and keep moving forward.
Four Ways to Deal With Criticism
Here are four strategies you can use when you’re criticized:
Just take it. It’s incredibly tempting to fight back. You’ll probably want to escalate the situation and defend yourself. Don’t yell back, don’t write that email, don’t take to Facebook. Just turn the other cheek and let them vent.
Think about who it’s coming from. Is this a client you genuinely care about? If so, then you might need to pay attention. If not, chalk it up to the fact that some people just say mean things they don’t understand—then move on. It’s the same thing we tell our 7-year-old: Sometimes people are just mean and crazy. Be warned: If you decide to engage, you’re playing a game that has no rules and isn’t fair. It’s generally better to move on and try to laugh about it.
Take some time. If the comments are coming from someone you care about and you want to address the issues, let emotions settle first. Once you’ve given it a few days, dig into the argument. If the person is saying you’re greedy because you’ve raised prices, identify the claim that your price increase is unnecessary. Explore the comments line by line and make a list. Then go deeper. Are there any truths to the claims? If the answer is no, move on and chalk it up to crazy. If the answer is yes, then you need to clarify where you stand on the issues. Sometimes people are upset by the realities of business. Look at the future and where you want your business to go. Check in with your mission and vision. If your actions align with your vision, then you just need to tough it out and realize that you cannot please everyone.
Talk to your mentor. We’ve all been there and we can help you navigate the situation. We can let you vent to us and say the things you can never say out loud. We can help you figure out if the person is worth listening to. We can help you pull the facts out of the dispute. We can help you see how those facts align with your business’s future, and we can help you feel better by sharing some war stories of our own. By the end of the conversation, you’ll feel better, sleep more soundly and have a clear path of action to move forward.
At the end of the day, if you’re going to run a business serving the public, you need to come to terms with the fact that you can’t possibly make everyone happy. If you become resilient to criticism and confident in well-considered but unpopular decisions, you’ll take major steps on the path to entrepreneurial success.
If you make it a practice to follow the steps listed above, you’ll be clearer in your decisions, you’ll be more confident as a leader, and you’ll rest easy because you know how to bring logic to situations that are often incredibly illogical.