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A Lesson In Handling Criticism

Today I received a piece of criticism that I saw as a golden opportunity for a lesson in handling criticism. (This very advice will be invaluable to you in the future!)

As you grow your business online and gain more exposure, it is inevitable that you will receive criticism at some point. Instead of changing directions, feeling horribly, or letting it stop you I’d like to offer an alternative.

The Email

Yesterday, I sent this email to my email subscriber list:

(Name), YOU are an incredible human being with a big heart to help others…now how great is that?!

I say this to you because you maybe haven’t heard that in a while – I mean really heard how great you are.

And you need that. You need to know that and believe it.

You’re a busy person taking care of business, lifting others up – you have the best intentions. This can also lead to a loneliness or a feeling of not being seen.

I see you.

When someone chooses to join my email list I take it as a real honor. I look up their website and social media profiles, then, I circle back around to check their progress and see what’s new in their world. Time consuming? Yes. But you know what, I dig it. I love the community feel and staying connected.

So don’t ever feel alone or like no one is paying attention.

I am and I want to give you some renewed energy today. Take a moment to feel how great you are and keep on truckin’ – it’s important you keep believing in your progress!

To your success,

Amber Ludwig-Vilhauer
Developing Authentic Leaders

The Feedback

Nice email Amber – you write incredibly well! Your heart bleeds through into everything… and I think it is indeed special that it does! You are one of the most AUTHENTIC people I have ever met and I feel HONORED to have had the opportunity to meet you and work with you!!

Great timing Ms. Ball of Fire. This message from you was very well timed. I honestly believe your reach out and connection. You are the real deal, and I’ve been online long enough to spot the difference. So thanks for your serendipitous thoughts. I needed to see that to pause, breathe, keep calm but build momentum to plan on. Appreciate your “Pocket of Sunshine” – I’ve got “work” to do.

Hey, Amber! Thanks for this message this morning! I needed it! hugs.

The Criticism

Amber, I regret that this is the first communication you will have received from me, but after receiving your message, I felt compelled to ask, does this kind of … I don’t even know what the right word is here… Marketing? Cheerleading? Work for most people? Really? I understand that your intentions are good, and I appreciate that, but I must tell you that this message positively drips with sappy, contrived, and canned rah-rah that bears no semblance of sincerity or relevance. How could you possibly know how great I am? You’ve never met me. As I read your email, the only thoughts that went through my head were “really??” And “what a load of canned crap!” I tell you this not to be cruel or impolite, but as brutally honest, sincere feedback. Your message comes across like that of an overenthusiastic and unseasoned life coach or self help guru. It did nothing to boost my self confidence, but rather made me regret wasting the 30 seconds I spent reading it. You might want to dial down the pep a notch or two in order to be seen as credible.

My Response

Hi (Name) and thanks so much for reaching out. I apologize about the delay – I’ve been on back-to-back client calls all morning. 🙂

I can appreciate your candor and asking if my form of communication/cheerleading works. I think there is a great lesson in this experience and I hope it serves you well to see what I’ve learned about business.

When I sat down to write yesterday’s email I spent a good 30-45 minutes writing that 15-sentence or so opening message. I got right into the heart and mind of my ideal client. That client feels exactly what I wrote about … giving to others, striving daily, doesn’t feel seen sometimes.

Not all of my messages are like that, but some certainly are because that’s what my ideal client is thinking and I want to serve them the best way I can.

The response to that message was incredible. So many people replied saying that was exactly what they needed, thanking me. Just one person wrote:
“Nice email Amber – you write incredibly well! Your heart bleeds through into everything… and I think it is indeed special that it does! You are one of the most AUTHENTIC people I have ever met and I feel HONORED to have had the opportunity to meet you and work with you!!”

Now I show you that to set up my point.

When we try to generalize our messaging or try to please everyone, our message can get muddled which draws a crowd of all sorts of different types of clients. I found that there were some clients I loved working with and others that weren’t as rewarding.

Only when I got crystal clear on who I want to serve, and stopped trying to appeal to the masses, did I attract more and more of my perfect client I love working with. By honing in on the character, feelings and needs of my ideal client I weed out the people that aren’t a great fit for my work and then I am more fulfilled (and so is the prospect that moved on and looked elsewhere for support).

As I mentioned in my email, when someone joins my network I do look into their website, social media etc to get a feel for them (this also helps me serve better because I can see what products or services might be most helpful based on where they are at in building their online platform). You strike me as a woman who really shows up for her family, you aim for a great result in your work and you also are a stickler for quality. You probably like getting to the point and appreciate when people offer you exactly what you need or want.

If you feel I can offer you support in the areas you need support in (probably the parts about building a business online, marketing etc and far less of the schmaltzy stuff) then I’d love for you to stick around and let me help. If you feel this was a turn off then you’re welcome to unsubscribe and I would understand. I’m here to offer real value, and if you can get value out of what I do, it’s there for the taking!

I think this was such a great email and experience that I plan to use a piece of it (of course I would not use your name) as the base of a blog post that I’ll tell my network about. As you get more exposure you are bound to get criticism and the key is in how you handle it. I know my ideal client would get a lot out of this exchange so I appreciate you opening the opportunity for it. 🙂

With gratitude,

Amber Ludwig-Vilhauer

The Lesson

If criticism, or less-than-positive feedback, comes your way you have a choice. You can feel insecure, embarrassed, exposed, hurt, angry … you can react and send a nasty reply in defense … you can change your message to please people … you can do nothing and quietly suffer …

There is always a choice!

For me, I read the email or criticism very carefully. I put my ego aside.

I am really looking for anything that strikes me as true – something I can improve upon. Then I will absolutely learn and grow if I have found something in my process or personality that could use improving.

If I feel no truth in it, I try to put myself in that person’s shoes and see the situation from their perspective. I sometimes find that person may have felt people aren’t being authentic in their life, or people have ripped them off before – or whatever “may” be happening and I just triggered that by my action.

I will then write an honest and reasonable reply (which they may accept and appreciate or they may not – either way, it was my Truth and you can’t really argue with the Truth).

So when you come across something hurtful, know you have a choice to not let it stop you in your tracks and make you feel badly. It’s ok that people have their opinions (sure, I wish the majority of people were nicer in their approach lol, but it’s normal).

Just stay in your lane, trust your voice and keep pursuing your dreams. Don’t you EVER let anyone slow you down.

With love,


(PS) I’d love for you to leave a comment below and tell me your thoughts as you read through the dialogue, what came up for you, and if you agree/disagree. 🙂

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