Criticism can be hard to hear—but it also creates opportunities for growth. Responding to feedback with a growth mindset and educating staff with training giveaways can help you turn negative feelings into a positive interaction.
Have a plan in place
Frequently, nonprofit staff or volunteers who encounter negative online reviews or comments don’t know whom to inform or how to handle the situation. This can lead to answering the feedback inappropriately or choosing to ignore it, which can have negative repercussions.
Have a set of guidelines in place for staff members to follow. Give away a training gift, like a notebook with pocket, that contains contact information for staff members who handle social media (and other emergencies). Ask staff to keep it close at hand so they can notify the proper contacts immediately.
Pause and reflect before reacting
Before responding to negative feedback, take a few minutes to:
- Understand the person’s intent
- Reflect before responding
Take a moment to think about the feedback. Try to appreciate the respondent’s point of view. This also gives you time to investigate the problem, see what your organization can do to correct the problem, and possibly provide training on how to prevent the problem going forward.
Train staff and volunteers on how to react and respond appropriately. A training gift, such as a stress ball, can remind your team to remain calm and give them something to focus on while they think about how to respond. You can also have them role-play how to address possible complaints. Imprint response reminders on a training giveaway. A cube puzzle is a memorable choice.
View it as a conversation
Think of feedback as a conversation and opportunity for future growth. Reframe the experience from a negative to a positive. A positive approach can prevent you from feeling defensive, especially if your critic just wants to be heard.
Offer an apology and ask how to make it right
The best way to discuss negative feedback is to:
- Apologize for the problem: Show your organization is listening.
- Thank them for bringing it to your attention: Demonstrate that you want to prevent this issue in the future.
- Ask what you can do to fix the problem going forward: This shows you face challenges head-on.
- Request that the person reach out to you directly: If the person has a more significant issue, engaging one-on-one via phone or email can prevent misunderstandings that may occur in an online discussion. And it keeps others from entering the conversation.
If you can resolve the issue or use their feedback to prevent similar issues from occurring again, show your gratitude with a thank-you gift. A thank-you card is an ideal way to show sincerity when correcting an issue. You can also send a flowerpot mug or seeded mailer with a note thanking them for helping your organization grow.
Create a positive outcome
By taking the time to think about the problem and addressing it as a growth opportunity, any piece of negative feedback can have a positive impact. As you craft your policy for handling criticism, these tips and training giveaways will help your organization use negative feedback to make your organization better.