The Hard Thing About Hearing Feedback About the Business You Started

Marsha Prospere
4 min readNov 22, 2021
Stairs leading to the sky. Photo Credit: Max Letek
Photo Credit: Max Letek

When you create something, you want it to succeed.

There can be a fair amount of self-doubt present when you create something and put it out into the world. You want to feel good, great even, about what you create. It is hard to hear feedback on any part or all of what you build, and feedback may amplify your self-doubt, insecurity, or stress. Because of this, at first, it might be hard to hear what is being said. Emotions may flood your senses, making it hard to self-regulate, remain objective, and non-reactive or make choices.

When you hear feedback, emotions may flood your senses, making it hard to self-regulate, remain objective and non-reactive, or make choices.

Know Your Feedback Style

There are many ways in which to know yourself; let’s focus on feedback. Feedback falls on a spectrum of casual occurrences to an official event.

When done well, feedback can provide a wealth of information that can influence how you flourish or avoid pitfalls, how you utilize your resources and focus your energy or squander them away, and how to improve your idea.

It is essential to know how you like to receive feedback and communicate that to your teams, partners, and advisors to get the most out of any evaluation. When I share how I want to receive feedback with clients, or people I’m collaborating with, I say something like, “I like feedback, and I like it to be specific without passing judgment. When it’s specific, I can take action. When it feels like I’m being judged, I take it personally.” Stating my style has been very helpful in allowing me to improve upon my business and coaching skills to drive more impact.

Curate and Engage with Your Tribe

The people that are close to you, your family, friends, or romantic partner, all of them are not meant to fulfill the role of business thought partner or advisor. It sounds harsh, especially because they mean well and want you to succeed. However, because of the profound impact feedback has, you have to be selective about who plays this role.

Curate your tribe slowly. Include people with whom you can confidentially, openly, and safely share your thoughts and ideas. Your tribe might consist of a mentor, executive coach, fellow entrepreneur, or a longtime advisor. Your tribe can include family, close friends, or a romantic partner, provided they can be objective, communicate well with you, and maintain context in their perspective.

Trust the tribe that you curate and engage with them. They will be invaluable to your growth. Share ideas with them, ask for their feedback and opinions and listen. Listen deeply and ponder their words. When they provide harsh feedback, assume their intentions are positive and that they want you to win because they do.

Understanding: The Way to Processing Feedback

What you hear from your tribe, clients, and random people at times will be wonderful and provide a new way of analyzing, thinking, and approaching your business. Sometimes, it will suck and hurt but will be necessary. Remember to assume positive intent and process what you hear by naming its emotional impact on you.

Geoffrey Roberts Emotion Wheel
Geoffrey Roberts Emotion Wheel

Naming that you’re hearing something difficult can help kick off processing the emotions that inevitably will be attached to what you are hearing. If available to you, give yourself grace and compassion to feel your feelings and choose what you want to do. Then, get specific with your emotions. If you’re not sure where to start, use this emotion wheel created by Geoffrey Roberts. Start from the middle and work your way to the outer edges until you reach the specific emotion you are feeling.

A couple of years ago, I spoke with my life partner about my business and growing it. He shared with me some hard truths. In the moment, I paused to identify that this was hard to hear and chose to do so with an open mind and with the knowledge that he was well-intentioned. That changed how and what I heard. I heard him acknowledge what was working in my approach and what could help me reach my goals more directly. I heard his pride in what I built and his desire for it to be successful.

Naming that you’re having a difficult conversation can help you interrupt the automatic behavior or reaction you might have, allowing you space to choose how you want to respond.

Gain Clarity to Take Action

Sometimes people are not comfortable providing feedback, especially if they are unsure how you will receive it. Share your feedback style -as mentioned earlier- and listen. As you listen, leave space for processing in the moment to ensure that you have captured all that was shared. Ask clarifying questions and get specific details of what they are trying to express.

Parse out the valuable information in the feedback shared, letting go of anything superfluous, including emotion, as this is where the insight or advice may lay. Get comfortable listening and asking clarifying questions, recap to ensure you accurately captured their sentiment, then say thank you.

If you end up taking action because of their feedback, make sure to follow up and share. This action helps to strengthen a healthy relationship with the person and with your relationship to feedback.

I leave you with one question to ponder to help push you towards being open-minded to feedback.

What do you risk if you don’t work through the hard part of hearing feedback?



Marsha Prospere

NYC native, executive & life coach, traveler, writer, human. Photo by Richard Louissaint