If someone got a discussion going, pinpointing what they believed were serious flaws in your service, how would you respond?
Typical reactions to that kind of unrequested, negative feedback, is to either ignore it or attack it. A less common reaction, is to study the critique with an open mind and look to see if there’s something you can learn from it.
Mark Zuckerberg and the critic
That second, less common reaction is exactly what Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg did recently, when an employee of Google, a major rival of Facebook, critiqued Facebook. Zuckerberg’s reaction to this public criticism of Facebook, is a lesson in how successful businesspeople deal with feedback. Not only did ‘Zuck listen to what the critic (Paul Adams) had to say, he took the ideas on board and worked with them, creating what we now know as Facebook Groups. Yesterday, it was announced that Zuckerberg had hired Adams!
When dealing with negative (or positive) feedback, it’s important to consider the source and the intent. In the above example, Zuckerberg listened because the critique came from a member of Google’s User Experience team. In other words, it was informed criticism. It also came with a solution to the problem, suggesting the critic was genuinely trying to contribute, rather than snipe.
Of course, it’s essential to check the source of feedback, before you act on it. Not all criticism is well informed. Just as you would not go to your doctor for legal advice or your lawyer for medical advice, you shouldn’t act on criticism from people who don’t know what they are talking about.
In my experience, when we receive criticism from a well informed source, even if we don’t LIKE what they have to say, we are foolish to just ignore it or attack it. It’s worthy of review at the very least.
PS: You might find this post about how to deal with different types of criticism useful!