Ep #72: Processing Negative Feedback

The Confident Coaches Podcast with Amy Latta | Processing Negative Feedback

Something I’m always coaching on is how to handle negative feedback. When we’re out in the world selling our coaching practice and offering to help people, it’s pretty much inevitable that someone isn’t going to like your approach or what you have to say, and my friends, it doesn’t have to spin you out for days or weeks, or even months.

Whether it’s someone commenting on your posts, or on the ads you run, or even clients giving you a laundry list of why they don’t want to work with you anymore, I’ve been there and done that over and over again. So while getting negative opinions is unavoidable, there is something you can do to process them in a healthy way, and I’m showing you how today.

Tune in this week as I give you a framework for distinguishing between haters and actual feedback. From there, you’ll be able to use the three questions I’m laying out here to help you process negative feedback so you can use them to your benefit and become an even better, even more confident coach.

Ready to learn how to create self-confidence and sign more clients? Our next session of the Confident Coaches Mastermind starts on April 5th, so feel free to email me for more information or submit your application here!

I’ve created a brand new free training for you called Stop Overcomplicating Confidence. I see my coaches making the process of cultivating confidence way harder than it has to be, and in this training, you’re going to learn exactly how you might be overcomplicating it, what’s creating that, and how to stop. And the best part of it all, it’ll take you less than an hour. So what are you waiting for? Click here to get it!

What You’ll Learn:
  • The problem with wanting to completely avoid negative feedback.
  • What happens when you take ownership of other people’s positive or negative opinions.
  • The alternative option available to you, rather than reacting to or ignoring feedback.
  • A 3-step process to help you recognize the difference between online trolling and negative feedback.
  • 3 questions you can ask yourself to process negative feedback.
  • How a confident coach approaches feedback.
Listen to the Full Episode:

Featured on the Show:
Full Episode Transcript:

You are listening to episode 72 of The Confident Coaches Podcast, the one where we learn what to do when someone doesn’t have something nice to say. Let’s do it.

Welcome to The Confident Coaches Podcast, a place for creating the self-confidence you need to do your best work as a life coach. If you want to bring more boldness, more resilience, and more joy to your work, this is the place for you. I’m your host, Amy Latta. Let’s dive in.

Hello my confident coaches. How are my Latta Loves doing out there? I hope you are doing amazing. Is it spring? I think it’s spring. Are we at spring yet? I know what the date is that this is coming out and I think we’re finally at spring. So can we just celebrate a little bit on renewal and new life and green things growing and the beauty of a new fresh season?

Nothing makes me smile more than spring. I mean, if I’ve taken all my allergy medicine, let’s be really clear, because spring also makes me face bloom too, but that’s a whole other conversation. So welcome to spring. Welcome to mid to late March. I am so excited.

So we are – this is coming out March 23rd and I want to make sure that you all know that if you are listening to this, this week or next week, we are in the process of applying for and enrolling people in the April Confident Coaches Mastermind. So we are doing that through April 2nd because the mastermind starts on April 5th.

And do you need to be there? This is the work. Everything that you hear on the podcast, so instead of just having me in your ear every single week, imagine having me in your brain every single week. That is what the mastermind will offer you because confidence is the foundation to the business that you need to grow. We are enrolling for the next six-month mastermind right now.

If you want to know more about it, hit me up in the direct messenger, send me an email at amy@amylatta.com. Make sure you’re getting emails from me and the free offer at the end of this podcast always allows you to make sure that you get those. So much goodness comes just from the podcast. Imagine actually having a group of mentor and peer coaches alongside you as well as me, a master coach, every single week until mid-October.

That’s what I’m talking about, my friends. So if you want to be in on this goodness, if you are ready to do this work, even if it’s uncomfortable and even if you’re feeling scared, let’s get you enrolled. If you’re listening to this at a different time, you can still contact me and we might just be in a waitlist at the time.

So still reach out. We launch four times a year. The next launch will be for the July class. So if you are listening to this in a couple weeks from now, still send me an email and reach out and we’ll make sure you know when the next one launches.

So that’s what’s going on in my neck of the woods. Before I get into the topic for this week, I need to give a shout-out to not just a client but my legit BFF. So I have a couple of BFFs from different areas of my life. This is my coaching BFF. And we’ve been friends actually before I became a coach.

So this shout-out goes out to Tammy. Tammy actually introduced me to who would become my master coach, Brooke Castillo, and introduced me to her podcast, Brooke’s podcast all the way back in the summer of 2015. And she and I have been alongside each other on this coaching journey. We have been each other’s confidants, lean-tos, friends, ears, shoulders, all of the things.

And she actually has just finished a round of Confident Coaches Mastermind with me and I have to tell you, her shift is one of those shifts that we can so often overlook as being important and it’s one of the most important ones. And that is creating the business that you want. That was Tammy’s shift. So big shout-out to Tammy.

What’s possible when she stays in her own lane, this is how I want my days to look, this is how I want my business to look, I’m the one who gets to decide how I define success. This is really huge, my friends. Coaches, really understand, the confidence to create the business that defines success for you. What will that look like?

That knowledge and that understanding and having the space to able to create that, which is something that’s available to you in CCM, that’s the work that Tammy did. And Tammy, I not only love you love you, but I’m so excited when I think about the people who you serve and the change that’s possible for them because of how you hold space for them.

The woman has a lot of experience holding space for me, so I know firsthand how brilliant she is. So shout-out to my client on understanding that success is how she gets to define it and because of that realization, her ability to connect even better with her potential clients and the growth that she has had, both client-wise, dollars-wise, but more than anything, just that sense of yes, I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.

And that leads me to today’s topic because we’re going to be talking about negative feedback. And it’s really funny because feedback from a friend versus feedback from a stranger versus feedback from a client and how we interpret all of that and how we process all of that.

And I want to offer that this topic has been a long time coming because first of all, take a look around at what’s going on in the world right now. You’d have to be under a rock right now to be like, holy schnikeys, we are in a state, my friend. The political discourse, people on all sides screaming at each other, it’s not just happening here in the States. It’s like, worldwide. We’re seeing this in countries all over the place.

And no one’s really talking about what the other side is saying. We’re just yelling at each other, right? And here’s the funny thing; I’ve been watching – and one of my sons has been watching with me, my husband’s watched a couple of episodes too, we’ve been watching The Last Kingdom on Netflix. Side note, excellent, excellent series. I cannot recommend it enough.

And it takes place during the ninth and 10th centuries England. Like 800s to 900s. Like 1100 years ago. So let’s be really clear what I’m talking about. Like a thousand years before the Industrial Revolution, right? We’re talking a long, long time ago.

But here’s the crazy thing; Trey and I have had so many conversations of like, these are the exact same themes that we are dealing with right now. This is how humans are. We don’t listen to one another and we stand on the I’m right and you’re wrong. We’ve literally done this since we could talk to each other.

This is the entire way we have always run the world. I want to offer you that when people look around right now like it’s never been this bad, I’m like, yeah it has. You need to read you up on some history because it’s been this bad and worse and actually the humans are just being what humans be.

We’re just doing what we do. But it’s possible we can totally approach all of this from an entirely different perspective. This I’m right, you’re wrong, negative feedback, when nobody has nothing nice to say, when they’re telling you all the things that they don’t like, I want to offer that not only can we approach this from an entirely different perspective, but this always comes up in coaching confidence for coaches. Always.

I’m always coaching on this. I actually have a client right now whose entire goal in Confident Coaches Mastermind is to learn to handle the negative feedback she receives. She’s got an amazing business but how do I handle the haters?

I’ve coached on this in every single mastermind that I’ve had and in most – I can’t say all because I don’t remember specifically every single one on one client and what we coached on right now. But definitely over half. And probably most. I’ve coached on when other people say something negative to us, what do we do with that?

So this is a conversation that needs to be had and it’s what we’re talking about. So when people comment negatively on your posts, on Facebook or on Instagram or on your ads on Facebook or Instagram, or when a client that you’re working with wants to quit, they want to fire you, or when former clients or maybe clients at the end of a package reach out to just say hey, I would not recommend you as a coach, and let me tell you why, and they proceed to give you a long list of all of the things that went wrong and you did wrong and all of the things that they didn’t like.

So it’s super important to know this right here. This is going to be the hardest part of this podcast right here. You can’t avoid this, coaches. I’m sorry. You can’t. If you’re hoping to avoid any negative feedback or anybody telling you what you could do better or why they don’t like you, this is not the game to be in.

First of all, I don’t think as humans we can avoid that, so I’m going to offer you like, it’s unavoidable. And I know so many of us want to avoid it. Clients will ask, what can I do to make sure I never get negative comments or feedback or hate mail?

The problem with that is that totally puts us into people-pleaser mode. Just a few weeks ago I had a podcast on people pleasers math, on the mental gymnastics we will go through to try to make sure that everyone is always happy with you. Not only is it a lose-lose situation, it’s not even possible.

It is impossible to ensure that everyone everywhere in the world is always happy with you always. It’s not even a thing that exists. So then what is left for us? To just accept criticism? To just fling the doors open, say, alright haters, give it to me, come on in, let’s fill up the room?

As usual, the answer is an entirely different option. It’s not do whatever you can do to avoid negative comments or fuck them, let them talk, I don’t care. It doesn’t have to be those two extremes. There’s something that is in the middle and that’s what we’re going to talk about today.

So I think it’s really important to give this full disclaimer. All of those different ways that we might get negative feedback, I’ve experienced all of them. I have had people point out on a post on Facebook, “Well you know actually, this is what’s correct and how you’re incorrect.” I have ads running right now and I’ve heard all kinds of feedback from people.

I’ve run ads before, I’m running ads right now. You might even be here right now because of an ad and so you might have even seen some of the comments that happen, or you might not. Because I’m going to tell you one of the things that I do, I have been told that I’m a terrible presenter, I should get presentation coaching, “Oh, you’re just like the MLMers.” What the hell does that mean?

“She just wants your money; nothing is for free. This is just an ad; she just wants to sell you something.” Yeah, that’s why it says sponsored at the top. That’s the point of advertising. I am trying to sell you something. I’m trying to sell you confidence coaching, right?

“All you marketers are alike.” That was a fun one. And then just the general like, “You don’t know what you’re talking about.” You don’t know what you’re talking about comes in a million different forms and I’ve probably heard them all.

I’ve also had clients quit on me. Literally say, “I do not like the coaching that we’re doing and I do not want to work with you anymore.” Absolutely, it’s happened a couple of times. And yes, I have had more than one client who’s gone through the entire program and then sent me their feedback, which was not good.

Here’s the thing that happened months ago and it really upset me, and it wasn’t remedied and here’s why I would not recommend you in the future. I’ve had that too, and I’ve had it from more than one client. So what are we supposed to do with this?

So first of all, let’s reiterate that people pleasers math rule. You cannot find the right combination of anything that equals everyone being happy. Because the same post that has you’re wrong on it, someone else will say, “Holy cow, I never thought of that, thank you.”

The same week that one client fired me, another client who started at the exact same time doing almost the exact same work sent me a message saying this is the best work that she’s ever done and thank me. The same week I had a client say you did this and I’m so upset by it and I would not recommend you, I had another client say that thing that you did, it was amazing, thank you so much.

You can’t take credit for people’s positive opinion of you any more than you can take credit for their negative opinion of you because the opinion is about them and not about you. They have a value or a thought process or a belief system that they adhere to and you either fit with that or you don’t fit with that.

Now, let me reiterate what I just said because the first time I heard it, it broke my brain. You can’t be any more responsible for someone loving you as you do hating you. If you take positive feedback personally, then you’re likely going to take negative feedback personally too.

And if you’re not trying to control their opinion about you so that you can feel better about yourself, you can just see their feedback as that. Feedback. Their thoughts. And then you can get to a place of being neutral about that.

Now, I don’t mean that we’re eliminating gut reactions. Like, Helga is not going to shout from the corner when somebody sends you an email, “And here’s what I don’t like about you.” She’s absolutely going to have something to say and that might still be there. This isn’t about eliminating those gut reactions and those initial Helga responses.

I absolutely experienced it. Absolutely, reading a highly praising piece of email, I’ll notice that shot of approval, not unlike a shot of heroin, right? Tap my veins, I’ll take a little bit of that. And then I remember, oh that’s right, these thoughts are reflective of her and I appreciate them but I can’t take ownership of them.

Same thing happens when reading negative feedback. I get that quick shot of dread or worry or anxiety and no doubt, it takes me a little bit longer to get to appreciation and not taking ownership of the feedback. But when you can get there and then we can see this is their opinion, and it is reflective of them and not me.

Alright, so then what? This is the important work. Because this episode is not about how to react or to ignore feedback. Not at all. I’m presenting you a third option and that is how to process negative feedback. So we can absolutely process it so it’s not just this thing that happens to us.

Because if feedback is neutral or we get to decide what to do with it and how we allow it to affect us by what we choose to think. So right out of the gate, let’s distinguish between online trolling and negative feedback. A troll or a hater, that’s someone who’s purposely fanning the flames. Their purpose is to be mean. Their intent is to piss you off or to upset you for, who knows what kind of reason.

There could be a million reasons why they would want to do that. Maybe they’re just having a bad day, maybe they just get off on pissing people off, maybe they’re unhappy so making other people feel unhappy makes them actually feel better.

There’s a million different reasons why someone would intentionally poke you in the side of the ribs. Intentionally try to piss you off or make you feel bad. This is most of the negative feedback on my Facebook ads or random Instagram posts. You probably don’t know these people, they’re typically strangers.

Not always, they might be old coworkers or friends or classmates and in this case, I usually do just ignore. This isn’t feedback that needs to be processed because their intent is not to help and to give you feedback. Their intent is just to hurt. And you will get better at recognizing over time the difference between intention to hurt and intention to actually give you feedback.

But here’s what I call a haters test. Run their feedback through a really quick haters test. Number one, do I know this person? That right there, we don’t need to use our energy arguing with strangers on the internet. Listen to me, stop using your energy arguing with strangers on the internet. Not worth your precious, precious brain’s energy.

Number two, is this person someone I work with or who understands or wants to understand my coaching business? Are they even in the arena? Are they even in the game of what you’re doing? Are they even understanding or have a desire to understand?

And then number three, is their comment meant to help me, give me feedback in some way? We can never really know someone’s intent because we’re not in their brain, but we can learn to tell if a comment is meant to cause trouble or hurt, or if they really do wish to help us.

And I’m just going to say right here, it’s an automatic out, I don’t even need to run it through the test if it’s a comment about how I look or about my boobs or 15 different men just saying hi. That’s an automatic out. That’s not feedback, boom, you’re out of here. You’re out of here, man, I don’t need your comments about my looks or my boobs or anything like that.

So if you answer no to any of those questions, do I know this person, is this person who wants to understand my work, is this comment meant to help me, they haven’t passed that haters test, their comments are likely not worth your time to process. And those are the comments to just ignore.

And I do mean ignore. You can hide the comment, you can delete the comment, you can block the user. This is a muscle to practice. Know that it might be uncomfortable to hide or delete or block and you will build that emotional muscle with time. That’s a huge part of what we learn in Confident Coaches Mastermind. I call it emotional strength training.

Negative feedback is a reason why because it is so unavoidable in life and definitely when you’re running your own business. So being able to experience that negative emotion that comes, even if it’s not feedback worth processing, you’ll still experience some negative emotion as you are reading a comment about how you’re dumb or stupid or you’re just like all the others and you’re hiding or blocking that person.

Been there, done that. Building that muscle myself, I am much better at it now than I was when I first started getting comments. That is a muscle to build. Okay, so if it passes the hater test, how do you actually process negative feedback?

So we had three questions for the haters test and we’ve got three questions to ask yourself in order to process negative feedback. These three questions I’m going to offer you come from a very long-held belief that I have that understanding is important.

Not to turn this into a political thing because this is not a political podcast, this is not – I don’t sell political coaching in any way. But I don’t think it’s going to come as a huge surprise if you’ve listened to all of my podcasts that I’m a fairly liberal minded person politically.

And here’s the thing; which party do I identify with most? Every single quiz I’ve ever taken says Green Party. So the environment, justice, equity for all, I’m very justice oriented. And in the mid to late 90s, when I was a young 20-something, I would listen to Rush Limbaugh. Not Green Part material, my friends.

He would be the complete opposite side of the spectrum. He held the 11am spot on KMOX here in St. Louis. And even though pretty much everything that came out of his mouth I didn’t like, I thought was hateful, I didn’t agree with him, but I listened to try to understand that conservative mindset because I have such a liberal mindset.

Because I have this firm belief, we cannot understand our position unless we understand our opposition. I adopted that belief in college and it has served me so well. I can’t understand my position unless I understand my opposition. I am not one of those, “I don’t want to hear it.” No, I actually do want to hear it.

Not because I think I should change my mind, but I better understand my mind when I understand other people’s viewpoints. And by the way, if you weren’t following @sharonsaysso on Instagram, yeah, you heard me, so go on Instagram and look for @sharonsaysso. She’s a government teacher and I don’t know her personally, but she is absolutely one of my favorite humans on the interwebs right now.

She’s actually a former government teacher who is bringing all sides together in one extraordinary Instagram community where she’s teaching people who believe all different kinds of things how to just understand the facts and to listen to one another.

This is what the world needs today, my friends. Listen to understand. Not to change your mind, or to change their mind. When we do, everyone walks away better for it. So I used to ask myself when I would get negative feedback, how might they be right and how might they be wrong?

And those questions actually served me pretty well for a long time. But as I’ve done more confidence coaching and the idea of right and wrong keeps coming up and I keep teaching and coaching people what if there is no right and there is no wrong, these two questions phrased that way didn’t really serve me anymore.

And I realized they’re just not good questions. If you love My Cousin Vinny, this would be like, Mona Lisa Vito would be like, that’s just a bullshit question. It’s not even a good question. It doesn’t help us to see sides as right or wrong. Here are the questions I like better.

So when a client fires you or sends negative feedback about your program or your coaching or you have negative feedback on your posts on your teachings, here’s the question I ask. What is their perspective that I can’t see and what is my perspective that they can’t see?

So what do they see that I don’t see? If I’m in their shoes, if I’m on their side of the table, what’s their perspective to consider? Because a confident coach doesn’t need to believe they know everything and are right about everything in order to be confident. In fact, a confident coach is open to hearing feedback and allowing that feedback to help them grow and learn.

It’s that I’m really good where I am, I wonder how we can make this even better. And you’re more likely to find those nuggets of how we can make this even better from people offering us criticism than we can from people offering us praise.

If somebody tells you I love everything you do, don’t change a thing, how can we make that and make our program better and make our thinking even better? It’s often the people who have criticism and negative feedback that contains nuggets of oh, this piece right here, I totally see this, and this is how we can make what we do even better.

Now, that doesn’t mean that we take their negative criticism as a list of everything we need to change either. That’s the next question. What’s my perspective that they can’t see? What do I know that they may not? What do I believe in that I like and I don’t want to change? What am I sure of? What do I believe?

This is where – this is what I really love. This is where negative feedback can actually make our beliefs even stronger. I totally understand where you’re coming from and I do not agree. I really like my reasons even more now for what I stand for and what I believe in. This is such a confidence builder right here.

When we hear conflicting information that challenges what we believe, we get to discover why we believe what we do and like and even love our reasons even more. It’s also really important to remember here, this is a little side commentary, but this is a really important nugget right here.

We can understand and listen to somebody else’s viewpoint and still like them. I know, did you know that? Were you aware? It’s hard to believe if you’re watching TV right now but it’s true. We definitely live in a world that tells us otherwise.

If you disagree with me, we can’t be friends. It means I can’t like you or you can’t like me. We’ll see that all of the time and that’s just not the case. In fact, when I listen to understand and not try to change my mind or yours, when I really process negative feedback in some way, I can see your perspective, I can respect it, and I can know and love why I have my perspective.

So what if their perspective that I’m not seeing and what is my perspective that they’re not seeing. And lastly, there’s a third question that I got from my client Patty. I’ve actually heard it before, but she reminded me of it recently that she always loves to ask herself this question. What’s the lesson here for me?

And this can be asked of any feedback, even those that don’t pass the haters test. What’s the lesson here for me? To learn to feel more negative emotion? To understand better who I am as a leader? To get off the fence on a decision I’ve not faced to make a decision and be more forthright and confident in who I am and what I offer?

Because negative feedback is not just out there happening to us and we are forced to learn from it. It’s there for a reason. So it’s so much easier to run that haters test and process negative feedback when we can filter it through there’s a lesson here for me. I wonder what it is.

And full honesty here, that question was so helpful for me recently where in one afternoon, I got three different emails from three different clients. The first one was negative feedback, the next one was positive feedback, and then the one after that was more negative feedback.

So I was already in – this is over the course of many, many hours, but it did happen all in one day, which was pretty wild. That was a first, I will admit. So it was already kind of a high emotion state, having gotten three very emotionally packed pieces of feedback from my side of the table.

So I was going on Facebook to refer to one of the situations that was in one of the emails and I’m not even joking, oh my gosh you guys, you’re going to die, I’m not even joking. The very first notification that I see is my sister, so I have had tagged to receive her notifications first.

My sister posting an article with the title, “How to spot an incompetent leader.” Oh my god. I’m not even joking, I thought I was going to die right there. First of all, my mouth fell on the table. I immediately started bawling and crying. I’m a terrible – I’m the incompetent leader.

Helga was like, she took full control of the reins and she was running the show, breaking out in tears, feeling all the feels, but as soon as I let her have her pity party tantrum throwing, that’s when I was like, oh, what’s the lesson for me here? This is it.

I am a leader and the lesson here for me, getting this much feedback all at one time, all while I’m selling my April mastermind and I’m hiring mentor coaches and an executive assistant, I’m bringing team members on, I’m in the middle of a launch, I’m getting this feedback, the universe is sending me a strong signal that my lesson here is to be firm in what kind of leader I am.

The kind of business I run. What are the values that are important to me and passing that on to my team so that my clients are sure in that leadership. And the clients that seek that kind of leadership, when I stand more firmly in it will seek me.

Alright my friends, yeah, that totally came full circle. Seriously, if you could have been there when I saw the title of that, I devolved into some freakish emotional state. Thank goodness I had these tools at my disposal so it did not spin me out for weeks or months or days at a time.

So as a recap, remember the haters test questions. Do I know this person? Is this somebody who wants to understand my business and what I’m doing? Is their comment meant to help me? If you answer yes to these questions, let’s process their negative feedback. What is the perspective they can see that I can’t? What is the perspective I can see that they don’t? And what is the lesson here for me?

And let’s just all agree, if every single human could take these questions to heart, literally the entire world would be so much peaceful. Alright confident coaches, remember, until next week, let’s go do epic stuff.

Coaches, I have created a brand-new freebie offer just for you podcast listeners. I created a brand-new training called Stop Overcomplicating Confidence because I see my coaches do it all the time. Make this confidence thing way harder than it has to be.

In this free training, you’re going to learn exactly how you overcomplicate confidence, what’s creating that, and how to stop it. Here’s the best part, all of it, less than an hour. Less than an hour of your time. You will feel more confident in less than an hour.

Friends, this is the best training I’ve ever done. So visit amylatta.com/podcastgift to get yours. Again, that’s amylatta.com/podcastgift. Go now and feel more confident in just an hour.

Thanks so much for listening to The Confident Coaches Podcast. I invite you to learn more. Come visit me at amylatta.com and until next week, let’s go do epic stuff.    

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Hi, I’m Amy.

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