A fairly LONG post/tip, but one that I feel is important.
Perhaps you have experienced this: after a performance, several audience members pass bay and shake your hand. They smile and tell you that they enjoyed your stories. You are gracious and thank them for coming and for saying such kind words.
Then comes that ONE PERSON. Yes, that ONE who needs to tell you what was wrong, what they didn’t like, or what they think you should change or do differently. NOW what do you do?
Essentially, you act the same way, with grace, kindness and thankfulness.
Here’s a story:
Recently, I ate breakfast in a restaurant that was new to me. The food was just “OK”, and the service was fine. But when I asked for some additional syrup with which to finish my waffle, I was told there would be a $1 charge. I balked at this and when a manager came by to check on me, I voiced my displeasure.
One of the owners eventually came to my table to inquire about my remarks. I told her (in a calm, quiet, way that I disagreed with that “policy”. She began to “justify” the up charge, based on their “cost” of the premium product. I told her I understood the economics of the situation, but I still thought it was wrong. The owner continued to argue and tried to “convince” me that she was justified. I was, quietly, not in agreement with her. Eventually, she got angry and barked that she would “take care of” the entire check. Please note: I was not asking for a free meal, merely voicing my (experienced) opinion regarding the up charge
From her perspective, she “won”. She got rid of a disgruntled customer (me) and she can continue to believe she is “right”.
From my perspective, we BOTH lost. She lost a potential customer and advocate for her business, and I lost a potential place to go back to and eat…and perhaps recommend to others. Had she forgiven the $1 charge (and lost a few cents profit) and given me more syrup, she would have had a happy and devoted customer who would have told positive stories about her restaurant. Instead, she got so upset that, by angrily comping the check, she lost the entire revenue for that meal, lost me as a customer, and now, I have told many people of my negative experience.
She was so worried about losing the small profit of the up charge that she now lost the cost of the entire meal. Another note: If she had merely been cordial, thanked me for my perspective and apologized that she could not provide the extra product without the charge, I still would have been OK. Perhaps not as happy as getting some more syrup, but at least feeling OK that I had been listened to. Aye there’s the rub!
So how do you handle criticism…from an audience member…from a host or producer? Remember, they are BOTH your clients. One pays (or takes the time) to come see you, and the other pays for you to perform. All three of you have a vested interest in the event.
I have spoken previously regarding ways to “make suggestions”
to tellers after a performance. But many out there have not read my newsletter or book, and perhaps do not understand how to offer suggestions in positive ways. Even so, YOU as the performer must still engage that person in a positive and accepting way.
I recently saw that Yelp had placed a “caveat” on the page where business owners respond to negative reviews. Here is what they caution:
Remember, "the customer is always right." Message with extreme care. (My italics for emphasis)
• Thank your customer for their business and feedback.
• Be specific about the customer's experience and mention any changes you've made as a result.
• Don't argue with the customer or nitpick the review.
• If you are upset, come back and message this customer another time.
I thought his was great, and applicable to tellers.
Remember who your customers are. They may not always be “right”, but they are the ones who hire and come to see you (if they choose to). Respond to them with extreme care.
Thank them warmly and sincerely for their suggestions/observations. Tell them you will consider them and review the possibilities for your next performance.
Don’t argue or try to “convince” them why you have made certain choices (they won’t hear you).
If you ARE upset, tell them (kindly) that their comments really surprised you and you would like to discuss them. Perhaps they could wait until the rest of the audience has filed out and then speak with you further.
It's easy to be gracious when someone praises you. It's more difficult to respond kindly to cririsism. But as performers, it's important to always respond with extreme care and caring.