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I once spent an hour briefing a creative agency about a copywriting project we needed their help with. They asked a lot of questions, many of which I couldn’t answer.
My manager, who listened in on the briefing, told me afterward that it was “ineffective.” I tossed and turned that night in bed, replaying the briefing in my head. I wasted precious sleeping hours ruminating.
A study published in Southern Communication Journal, identified a tendency in some individuals to think excessively about negative events. They spend hours thinking about what could or should have happened. Entrepreneurs and executives are hardly immune to taking problems at work personally.
The executive receives an abrupt email from their boss and wonders if they’ll be fired. The entrepreneur gets a bad product review on Amazon and spends the afternoon brooding. It’s hardly an effective way to spend a day? So what type of issues should you avoid taking personally at work or in your business?
An entrepreneur creates software for small business owners. He invest his time, money and emotions into this product. The entrepreneur extols its virtues by breathlessly listing the latest features in an interview or sales page.
The sales page is full of technical jargon or promotes how great the product is rather than how it can help small business owners. The company’s would-be customers have no idea what the entrepreneur is talking about, much less trying to sell.
Missed sales targets lead the entrepreneur to wonder, “Why don’t they get it? Is it me?” In this case, the entrepreneur should recognize other small business owners aren’t interested in the entrepreneur or their product’s bells and whistles.
It’s not personal, they just don’t have time to decipher a confusing message. They are, however, interested in buying a product that can solve a problem or save them time. The entrepreneur should reposition the product in a way that appeals to their customers’ desires.
An account executive pitches a company for new business. She practices her sales presentation for hours beforehand. The presentation goes well too, but the client still says they’re going another way.
The executive takes this rejection personally and wonders:
“If only I’d practiced harder?” “If only I had more time?” “If only we’d used a different font?”
In this case, the executive could solicit feedback from the client, but spending a week or even a day ruminating is unhelpful. Perhaps the client simply wanted to work with someone cheaper because their budget was cut. Maybe they wanted to see what the market could offer, even if they had little intention of proceeding.
Or possibly the client had a friend in another company to whom they wanted to give business. After a quick debrief, the executive’s time is better spent finding a new client.
You Are Not Your Work
Days after my ineffective briefing, I realized I was simply underprepared. So I started setting aside extra time before future briefings to gather what I needed. A carpenter doesn’t get upset if a customer points out a new table is wobbly.
A plumber doesn’t take a clogged sink as a personal slight. A doctor doesn’t usually get upset if a patient complains prescribed antibiotics didn’t help. Entrepreneurs, much like successful artists, should detach themselves from their work.
Yes, criticism and rejection can hurt, but this is almost never a reflection on you personally. Instead, use this criticism to identify what to fix in your product, marketing or messaging. Then, it’s time to move on.
June 13, 2019 at 10:33AM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs