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The easy 5-step process for responding to a negative review

Have you received a negative review and not sure how you should respond to it?

It feels horrible doesn’t it?

If you open your inbox or social media feed to a negative review, it can strongly affect your mood and your confidence. And it’s okay, it’s perfectly normal to feel affected by it. However, eventually you may will need to approach responding to it, and that can be quite an intimidating thing.

Where do you start? And when do you start to respond? Should you respond as soon as you see it? Or should you take a moment before you decide what to do?

Here’s the process that we at Happity follow. Hopefully it can help you too!

mum and child relaxing with some meditation

One: Breathe, and don’t take it personally.

Take a breather, meditate, go for a walk, do a hobby, or phone a friend that never fails to make you laugh. Take a quick breath and try to gain perspective, because we’re all guilty of jumping to conclusions when our feelings are involved!

Responding to a negative review as a small business owner (and class provider) means that the way you respond can still have a strong impact on future business. Try not to bring emotion into the situation or respond whilst in a heightened mood.

Two: Consider if there’s anything to take away from the feedback

Analyse and read over the review and see if there’s anything you can take away from it. Is there any truth in it? If so, what can you learn from it and take forwards from here?

We all have new things to learn, regardless of the amount of experience we have. So take a moment, and think if there’s anything here that will help you adapt and avoid similar feedback in the future.

Reframing it from a criticism to a learning opportunity helps you feel much better too.

Three: check the validity of the negative review you are responding to

On the internet, there are always trolls lurking in the shadows. It’s good to keep this in mind if there are any particularly nasty reviews or feedback left for you.

If false, or you know that the feedback has been left in bad faith/to stir a reaction from you, then apply to get the review removed. In the scenario where you cannot get it removed, then you should post a reply in a measured and factual way.

Remember: try not to leave anything that’s been driven on emotion

Four: When you’re ready send a reply

It will come across as more professional if you try to reply to the review. Wording is important, and acknowledging that their feedback has been taken on board is a good idea. Apologise to them for the bad experience and thank them for the feedback. In the circumstances where it seems necessary, it’s also a good idea to offer to make it up to them in some way (e.g. a free class).

You might have been hoping for a template here, but it’s also incredibly important for you to be able to find your own tone of voice to respond with. Don’t search for an automatic response, use your own words and allow the reviewer to feel like they’re speaking to an actual human being.

Five: Try not to let it stick with you, and move on

Take on any critique and feedback to grow from the experience. But, try not to let the negativity bring down your confidence too much. Once the situation is dealt with, pick yourself up, and try to move on.

We know this can be more difficult than it sounds, and responding to negative reviews can sometimes stick with you.

If you are finding that it has left you with a really negative mood, then perhaps take a bit of time to look after yourself.

women holding up speech bubbles.

What do you do if you just can’t bounce back after responding to a negative review?

It does take a bit of adjusting, taking a break from the screens, and allowing yourself a few moments of calm. We have a blog here with a few simple tips on improving your mood, but it’s also good to know that you’re not alone in experiencing this. Most, if not all, people running a small business will encounter negative feedback at some point in their career.

Looking for people who have the same experiences as you? Why not join our Facebook provider group where you can ask questions and join in the conversation with like-minded individuals.

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