Confident Leader

3 key tips to thank your critics in dealing with negative feedback


As a female entrepreneur, I’ve had to learn to develop thick skin in the world of business to survive. After almost 10 years of being in business, I am no stranger to criticism, disapproval, dismissal or negativity. It almost comes with the territory. From my experience, people always manage to find a reason to criticise you or discourage you – I’ve been told (without asking the question) that I am either taking on too much, or that I shouldn’t start that business venture because someone else is doing something similar or that my idea simply wouldn’t work…I have at times almost been derailed by listening to the negativity that abounds.

Once, I would have taken this kind of negative feedback to heart, questioning myself, my actions and my ability to be a good business woman. But I have learnt that not only do you need to ignore such negativity, you need to embrace it for the sheer reason that it will give you the resolve to charge forward. It actually gives you the strength to drive change and innovation. Criticism can be a leverage point that propels you into exciting new territory.

The reality of business is that there are always people will who try to bring you down or insist that your approach is misguided. All too often, hardworking women don’t give themselves enough credit for their achievements – particularly in male-dominated sectors, where it can be difficult to speak out and easy to believe in such negativity.

Unfortunately, we’re our own worst enemies too at times. Australia has a pervasive culture of “tall poppy syndrome” – not wanting to see others succeed or defy convention. Criticism is just as likely to come from other women as men. However, try not to be disheartened by this. Embrace criticism as a strategic tool – a springboard to help you travel in the right direction.

All the times I have been told that I can’t do something, or that what I am doing is not good enough or won’t work, I find the strength within to actually channel more energy towards carrying my business idea forward to prove my critics wrong – my second business, Gemstar, is a perfect example of this.

For all the career and business women out there, here are my three top tips for how to view criticism as a positive thing – something to help you grow, both in business and in life.

1. Speak out, profile and network

As a female change maker, you are unique, authentic and distinct. Create a strong profile for yourself by networking and forming strong relationships. Don’t be afraid to speak out about your achievements – you deserve to be proud of yourself! By celebrating your own successes, you can help to build a positive and supportive culture for the next generation of business women. You will also start proving your critics wrong…

2. Be bold, daring and assertive

Being a business woman is all about taking risks. In the face of negative feedback, stand up for your cause and your beliefs. Being assertive is not the same as being confrontational or argumentative – it’s simply about standing tall and proud as a female leader. It’s about gracefully accepting criticism while championing for change. Don’t let anyone undermine who you are or what you believe in, because your opinions and ideas matter.

 3. Mentor & support other women 

We need to build a positive, nurturing and supportive culture for career and business women. Female leaders can inspire and mentor other business women and girls, equipping them with key skills like resilience, self-confidence, assertiveness, profiling, networking and taking initiative. As a woman leader myself, I’m passionate about being reachable and available to other women, and advocating for more business women to bring their visions to life.

So to all of the people out there who told me that Gemstar wouldn’t work, or that I had taken on too much, or questioned how I would ever manage to achieve business success while raising two children – thank you! I have you all to thank for giving me that extra strength inside to carry on, and build a successful career.

About Gemma Manning

Gemma Manning is a serial entrepreneur and strategic marketing professional. She is the Founder and Managing Director of Manning and Co, a corporate marketing consultancy based in Sydney, and Gemstar Technology, a launching pad for Australian tech startups in South-East Asia, via Singapore as a gateway.

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