We all want to be liked.  We all want to be the coolest and we all care what others think of us.  This is true in the corporate world, as well as in our personal lives.  But how do you know when to take peers’ “advice” and when to ignore it?

In a previous business life, I worked in retail.  Fast-paced, exciting, challenging – and Brand centered.  One day, a “Secret Shopper” came into our store, quietly sizing us up, checking our customer service skills and the overall shopping experience.  His “findings” were then written into a not-so-nice blog post that sent our whole store into a veritable freak-out.

A copy of the blog was circulated around our store, being passed from hand to hand, discussed and dissected in the break room.  It wasn’t a national blog, it wasn’t anyone any of our employees had ever heard of before, our store hadn’t “hired” him to give us tips on our customer service skills or lack thereof.  And yet every point he made was like a dagger through the heart of each employee who took pride in our store.

Of course, there were definite customer service failings that needed to be addressed.  But a lot of what he felt were our failings were things that he, specifically, didn’t like and things that we, specifically, felt strongly about and that were part of our Brand.  And yet we questioned everything we stood for because of what he said

Was he right?

Not everyone is going to like you.  Not everyone is going to agree with your vision or your way of doing things.  Does that mean you’re wrong?  Heavens, NO.  Branding is not about being popular.  It’s about being TRUE:

  • Truthful.  Represent yourself truthfully, show who you are and what you do with honesty.
  • Relevant.  Keep up with your demographic.  Can you be useful to the people you’re trying to reach?  Are you current with your technology and offerings?
  • Unique.  “Keeping up with the Joneses” isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.  Why should your clients come to you instead of the Joneses?  Just because “everyone else is doing it” doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do and doesn’t necessarily represent YOU.
  • Engaging.  Always be open for a give-and-take conversation between you and your clients/customers.  Listen to their input – to an extent.  You can’t please everyone all the time.  But if the feedback you’re getting shows that you’re not representing yourself the way you want to be perceived you need to be able to have that conversation.

Negative feedback hurts our feelings – whether it’s personal or professional.  The important thing is to filter out what’s constructive and what’s just negative.  Sure, negative PR is still PR, but it does affect morale.  Keep your perspective on your Brand and don’t let someone else’s perception affect your TRUE goals.

Have you experienced this in your company?  How did YOU handle it?