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How Self-Aware Trusted Advisors Handle Negative Feedback

Managing client expectations and ensuring the quality of services is a fundamental aspect of any business. Yet, the feedback loop that ensures this constant process doesn't always churn positive results. After all, clients are individuals, each with their unique expectations and perspectives. If there is positive feedback, businesses and sales teams will also face negative feedback. How you approach this will show your savviness as a Trusted Advisor.

3 selection for good, neutral, and negative feedback smileys

Rather than seeing it as a setback, negative feedback is a chance to develop processes and strategies It is an opportunity for growth and development. What needs to be worked upon? Which aspects of the business’s service may have otherwise been overlooked? What is your team doing about it? Every proactive business should consider negative feedback as a valuable asset to its holistic improvement.

Receiving Negative Feedback

According to Tasha Eurich in her Harvard Business Review article, “Processing and acting on negative feedback are not always easy. It can make us defensive, angry, and self-conscious, which subsequently impairs our effectiveness. What’s more, we can’t take all feedback we receive at face value.” 

To adequately respond to negative feedback, one needs to effectively receive it. This involves a systematic approach, where businesses actively seek customer feedback. This can be achieved through follow-ups with clients post their engagement with the company's services.

For example, client relationship assessments can help you understand insights that might not be readily available during an interaction with a customer. This gives better data and provides clients with a platform to express their satisfaction or dissatisfaction.

Measuring Your Self-Awareness

Receiving negative client feedback is only the first step. Interpreting the underlying concerns in the client's words and extracting valid points for service improvement is an equally crucial part of the process.

In Encompass-CX, we don’t just look at a client’s assessment of an interaction, we also have to actively understand how an advisor or sales manager thinks their clients perceive those interactions.

Self-assessments should not only help advisors analyze their overall impression of their clients, they also need to assess how they think their clients see them. And because humans are notoriously bad at judging their own abilities, most advisors tend to overestimate and underestimate their analysis of themselves.

In a study to explore whether “self-awareness can directly buffer the consequences of negative feedback”, findings suggest that “self-awareness can help people to cope with negative feedback in the early semiautomatic outcome evaluation stage (i.e., reducing neural sensitivity to negative feedback).”

3 Ways to Approach Negative Feedback

So how should you, as a self-aware Trusted Advisor, approach negative feedback? Here are 3 ways to do that:

Maintain Composure

Remain composed and receptive when receiving negative feedback. Refrain from becoming defensive or emotionally reactive. Trusted Advisors understand that negative feedback is an opportunity for growth and improvement. And they quickly apologize when they know they've made mistakes.

Gather Data

When you can compare buyer perception with your own self-assessments, it becomes easier to find trends and patterns. When you can compare your performance against your clients's perceptions of their other business partners, or see how well (or bad) you’re doing in a team, you become aware of what needs to be improved in your skills. Finding your blind spots and untapped possibilities to grow your business relationships is key to revenue growth.

Take Action

When you have enough data, you can draft action-based plans to improve your client relationships. A trusted advisor takes proactive steps to address the concerns raised in the negative feedback. Interacting with clients on their feedback not only helps achieve a better understanding of their expectations but also signals to them that their concerns are taken seriously.

Encompass-CX for Action-Based Strategies

By understanding their own emotions, behaviors, and reactions, individuals can better process and learn from negative feedback without becoming defensive or discouraged. Self-awareness enables individuals to separate their identity from the feedback, leading to constructive reflection and growth.

With a customer experience management tool like Encompass-CX, advisors and sales managers can objectively assess their own strengths and weaknesses. It helps mitigate risks and increase retention rates while making sure their sales teams are developing their skills.

Remember that negative feedback is not a stumbling block but a stepping stone towards greater success. By thoroughly understanding the true nature of this feedback and strategically implementing appropriate response methods, businesses can leverage it to fuel their growth.

Ready to understand more about your clients? Sign up for Encompass-CX's free trial here.

Encompass-CX dashboard answering who why what and how


Xu, M., Liu, B., Gu, R., Yang, S., Wang, H., & Zhu, X. (2021). Self-awareness buffers the consequences of negative feedback: Evidence from an ERP study. International Journal of Psychophysiology, 164, 9–16.

Eurich, T. (2018, August 6). The right way to respond to negative feedback. Harvard Business Review.

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