For some of us, maintaining emotional distance from our business dealings comes naturally. For others, it can be more of a struggle. Especially when our confidence is challenged by negative feedback, an unhappy customer, critical friends and family, and the mistakes we all inevitably make.
Removing emotion from business requires one core element: Confidence. Absolute confidence in our work, our decisions, and our ability to solve any problem that tries to topple us. Particularly if you’re new to running your own business, confidence may be hard to come by. It’s hard to be sure of yourself with any new venture, especially if you don’t seek new adventures for yourself very often.
But, there’s hope. The next time you get a negative or neutral feedback and get angry, the next time a customer gives you the wrong shipping address then wants a refund, the next time someone asks with visible disbelief, “That’s your job?”, reach into the following toolkit and you might find what you need to avoid getting and staying upset.
1. Don’t let others define your worth.
For a lot of us, sales = confidence. When we get a sale, we’re elated. When we don’t get a sale for weeks, we’re depressed. When someone compliments our work, we’re thrilled. When someone criticizes it, we’re crushed. Such an erratic emotional landscape places far too much value on the opinions of others and not nearly enough on our own opinion of ourselves. If you absolutely know you’re doing what’s right for you, nobody can to change your opinion of yourself.
2. Realize you’re going to screw up.
Let’s get one thing straight. I screw up. A lot. I’ve sent the wrong items to people. I’ve shipped packages before the customer paid. I’ve sold items I didn’t have in stock. But I know getting upset about these mistakes is the path to failure. Instead, when I screw up, I fix it for the customer then fix it for all customers. The next time you screw something up, because you will, don’t let it become a ding to your self esteem. Solve it, learn, and carry on.
3. Focus on solutions, not fault.
People often share stories of customers who gave the wrong address, who unrightfully left negative feedback, who send rude emails. I’m not concerned with who screwed up so much as I am with solving the problem at hand. And all problems with my business and my customers are mine and mine alone to solve – whoever’s fault I think it is. Don’t let blame trap you in emotional enmeshment. Take responsibility for everything in your business and you might avoid that emotional landmine.
4. Don’t assume.
Especially if you are vulnerable to the opinions of others, something might happen that seems terrible but is actually innocuous. Someone with negative buyer feedback places an order with you so you cancel the sale. You report a reseller who’s actually an efficient home business. Assumptions like these come from an emotional, fearful place rather than a logical one. Before you leap to assume to worst, consider all possibilities and likely outcomes. You might just logic yourself out of making a big mistake.
5. Get out of your own head.
Your customer doesn’t care about you, he cares about himself. He doesn’t give a flying pony about your feedback score, your feelings, or the fact that you are living in a cardboard box behind a 7-11. Accepting this fact might help you maintain a level of emotional distance. If a customer is upset for any reason, focus on him, his needs, and what you can reasonably do to solve them. Worry less about what he thinks of you and more about what he wants from you.
6. Hang around people who share your values.
If you’re spending time with people whose business philosophy conflicts deeply with your own (and you’re vulnerable to their opinions), you might be putting yourself in a position of emotional attachment. Stop it. Find like-minded people. You’ll know you have when talking to them about business spawns new ideas and makes you feel like you know what you’re doing. You might find them in Meetup groups, on forums, or in friends and family. Stop wasting your time with those who don’t share your ideals.
7. Avoid catastrophizing.
Some folks worry about negative feedback. They think one ding is going to catapult them into a mile-deep pit of fiery despair. Their business will fail, their family will go hungry, everyone will laugh at them, and for the rest of their lives they’ll be defined by suckassness failurism. If you find yourself heading toward that launchpad of shame, stop. Distract yourself. Call a friend to talk you back from the ledge. Solve the worse-case scenario in your mind. Realize that emotional, irrational fears drive those worries and the outcomes you’re imagining are unlikely.