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AP 0868: Do You Have Any Advice for Taking Constructive Criticism?

AP 0868: Do You Have Any Advice for Taking Constructive Criticism?

By Pat Flynn on

AskPat 868 Episode Transcript

Pat Flynn: Hey, what’s up everybody? Pat Flynn here, and thank you so much for joining me in Episode 868 of AskPat. As always, I’m here to help you by answering your online business questions, five days a week.

We have a great question today from Josh, but before we get to that, I do want to mention one more time. I mentioned this yesterday, but I have an upcoming course related to podcasting that’s going to be really exciting for you, and that is called You can sign up for the waitlist now. It’s not going to be available until the next month or two, but I just wanted to mention it because I know a lot of you are getting involved with podcasting very soon and want to make sure it’s done the right way, not just in terms of setting up, but also releasing that and launching that podcast and how to keep it going over time and all those kinds of things. We’ve already run through the course with about 165 beta students who are loving it, many saying that it’s one of the best courses they’ve taken, so I’m excited to share it with you and the public later this year. All you have to do is sign up at and you can go from there. Looking forward to it.

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All right, now here’s today’s question from Josh.

Josh: Hey Pat, this is Josh with, a website that’s all about life and careers in the US Air Force. My question, actually I have a two-part question, because I’m kind of asking this question right in the middle of the heat of the moment. I just got some feedback from not necessarily my audience, but I guess it’d be more of my peers, who basically said that my website came off as salesy, markety, and desperate. I kind of got a little bit offended by it. My question is, how do you take constructive criticism from outside sources and where do you draw the line between implementing their suggestions and not?

And then also, let’s say that they are correct and that there’s some issues with my website. How do you get good criticism that’s not from family and friends? Are there any sources that you go to to get criticism on your work and products? I’m just kind of curious. Again, this is in the heat of the moment, so I’m sure I’ll probably settle down a little bit when it comes to it, but I would love to hear what you have to say. Thank so much. Bye.

Pat Flynn: Hey Josh, thanks so much for the question. Taking criticism is one of the hardest things to do. I remember when I first started out, any sort of negative feedback I got related to my work in any way would just weigh over me so much, and it got to the point where sometimes I would just stop working because I jut couldn’t take it anymore. There were other comments coming in from haters and really, really disrespectful people, and that can have an obvious effect on people. I was out of commission for like two weeks at one point based on something somebody did. Even the constructive criticisms coming from peers and people who are outside of my space, even though it is constructive and respectful, I still took it very personal, and because of that, it affected my work.

It’s always great to learn how to take constructive criticism. The first thing to realize is that sometimes people aren’t always right, and a lot of times when people are saying things that they say, it’s not coming from a place where you re having any effect of them, but it’s more something else that’s having an effect on their lives, and you just happen to be there at that very moment to sort of accept that thing that’s happening in their life. A lot of times, criticisms are a reflection of the person who is saying that. Again, constructive criticism is always good, because it’s going to help you in some way, shape, or form. Does that mean the single moment a person had something to say that is different form what you thought, even though thousands of people have never said anything, does that mean because of that one person you need to take action right then and there? No. You need to listen though.

I think that’s the most important skill out of all the skills here related to criticism, and that’s listening. You want to, a) give people opportunities to leave constructive criticism because that’s going to help you, because sometimes what those people say is a reflection of exactly what everyone else is thinking. They just happen to be somebody who finally spoke up and said it. The only way to confirm that is to take that criticism and share it and see if people agree. I would actually talk to people. Now, if it’s related to you being too salesy or too pushy or too desperate, then that’s maybe not something that you want to say on your Facebook page. “Hey guys, do you think I’m too desperate by sharing this?” No. But you can individually reach out to people, or direct message people, especially if you have power users in your brand, commenters or social media friends who seem to be very active related to your work. You can reach out to them individually and ask them for advice. Not only are you going to be getting some great information back from them that you can use in some way, shape, or form moving forward, but you’re also going to help empower those people to realize that hey, you care about your brand and you’ve come to them for help and that makes them feel special. They’re going to be more supportive of you and what you’re doing.

So reach out to individuals. I would say even five to ten if you can at this point who are related to your brand or even friends and family is fine at this point. I’ll address your second question in a minute, but first of all, don’t get so personally hurt because of it. Remember, everybody’s constructive criticism is there because they’re trying to help, right? Its not a reflection necessarily on you, it’s a reflection on the work, and the impact that it has on them and their feelings, and you have to confirm whether or not those are just feelings for that person, or something that everyone else thinks about, so that’s why those conversations are going to be really important.

A lot of times, if you truly believe in your gut, in yourself, that what they’re saying is incorrect and you don’t want to make changes, you just stick with you, and your gut and your guns. It’s different on a case by case basis, of course. For this, I would say that having those individual conversations with people is going to be really important, which does play into that second question that you asked, which is, how do you get good feedback from non-family and friends? You know, there’s a couple different ways to do it. Obviously, reaching out to people on social media and engaging in a conversation there. I engage with conversation from non-family, non-friends kind of people, on my email list. I mean, I do consider them my friends and I treat them that way on my email list, but I reach out to them because I don’t know them personally and I try to get them on a Skype call, and that can work out pretty well. I try to make it a point to have one conversation per month with random email subscribers. I get a lot of great feedback from there, both positive and constructive.

Finally, there are tools out there that can help you understand from people’s point of views in terms of how they receive your content. I mean, there is one tool out there that I’ve used and that a lot of people have used, and it’s free, which is really cool. If you go to, you’ll see a tool that you can use to have random people record themselves going through your site and actually hear what their voice is saying. So you can get real feedback from strangers, essentially, about your work online or about your website and what it looks like and first impressions and that sort of thing, and that can help you from an outside perspective get an understanding of what’s going on in people’s minds as they’re going through it. And Josh, I just want to say keep going. If you weren’t getting any criticisms, then most likely you’re not doing work that matters, because honestly, the only way to move forward is to take bold actions and a lot of times bold action means you’re just not going to make some people happy, so the haters and the trolls out there, I mean, it’s a good sign. Now I’m not saying, I don’t know if you’re getting haters or trolls, it doesn’t sound like it, but it just sounds like you’re having people comment on the style and the approach that you’re taking. Have conversations with others to confirm that or not. That’s the thing, you don’t want to take a reactive approach to this, you want to take a proactive approach to what you know now. Proactively go out there and confirm or deny this claim that these people are making and you can make adjustments from there.

And then, of course, what’s best is, if you are getting feedback from others that this is indeed true, reach out to those people who left those criticisms and ask for advice in terms of, what do you think would make this a little bit better or sound less harsh or have it be more of an approach that would be more friendly to you that way you can get feedback directly from those who are impacted by this. That can help you. In the same way as you took that criticism, you want to take the advice coming from them in the same way. Don’t just implement those things right away, but you get the group in the whole to help reflect where you should go next before you make any decisions. Being reactive, I’ve found, is one of the worst things you can do when it comes to this kind of stuff, because I’ve done that before, where I had a person reach out to me and say certain things, and I make those changes, and then all of a sudden more people come back and say, “Hey, why’d you make that change?” Right? I guess the big lesson here at the end is, you can’t make everybody happy, right? But try to make the most people happy.

All right, thanks Josh, I appreciate you, and I want to wish you all the best. I’m going to send you an AskPat t-shirt for having your question featured here on the show. And for those of you listening, if you have question that you’d like potentially featured here on the show, all you have to do is head on over to and you can ask right there on that page.

Thanks so much for listening in. I appreciate you. Make sure you subscribe. And then finally, here is a quote to finish off the day. This is a Native American saying, and that is, “Tell me and I’ll forget. Show me and I may not remember. Involve me and I’ll understand.”

All right guys, take care, and I’ll see you on the next episode of AskPat. Bye.

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